RK/RKay had me at its opening—the music, the movement, the set, the direction, it all hooked me instantly. The same man is moving throughout a hallway, opening and closing doors. Pay attention as the beginning symbolizes everything that’s about to come, preparing you for an existential ride. It also features some lovely Indian-Hindi comedy and acting, as well as a pleasurable nod to Indian fables and myths. Writer-director-star Rajat Kapoor’s movie is primed to have something for everyone.
Kapoor is considered the godfather of independent Indian film, which is completely understandable, considering he tells this unique portrayal of self and the id vs. ego, funnily and delightfully, especially with the actors he chooses to take with him on this introspective journey. Considered “meta cinema,” RK/RKay is a film within a film similar to Woody Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo, where the lead character leaves the movie and ends up in “real life.” In this case, the character leaves in a taxi instead of jumping off the screen into a movie theater.
The comic relief is fantastic, especially with several funny scenes from the crew having to act with an actor in real and film life. From an aesthetic point of view, I especially enjoyed the key light on the characters who jump off the screen, and the 1950s feel apparent in the lighting, jazz score, and setting. The cast and crew of the film are also the characters in the movie, which seems like it’d be confusing, but no momentum is ever lost. Since RK/RKay dives in at full throttle, Kapoor who is both RK and also the main character Mahboob, we are quick to understand how these characters relate to one another, including his wife, children, and the very funny film investor who is never without a drink, even while riding in a car.
“Gulabo confers with RK about Mahboob within the editing room, but it’s not enough to bring him back to the digital screen.”
As it turns out, Mahboob’s only reason for returning to the screen is for his great love Gulabo (Mallika Sherawat), who does not leave the film as others do, which include an Indian mobster who is after Mahboob for money he never receives from him because Mahboob exits the movie. Gulabo confers with RK about Mahboob within the editing room, but it’s not enough to bring him back to the digital screen.
Kapoor turns the life of a director and writer of Indian B movies into a question of one’s purpose. Do any of us really know our place in the great scheme of life? What defines happiness? Well, watching RK/RKay after a pandemic only makes me want to go to a movie theater and jump into the screen (a la The Final Girls). Mainly though, I just want to enjoy movie-going again. But I digress because cinema does have an ending, and the projector can be turned off.
RK/RKay presents a great appreciation for the artistry required to make a film. The process of being able to question one’s life while in production is appealing, and keeping the action character-driven is a rather large feat to accomplish. Kapoor wrote a challenging script, kept amazing continuity between Kapoor, Mahboob, and being a director, and he found excellent support in doing so. Go see the picture; what more can I say to convince you to do so?
"…hooked me instantly."