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RK/RKay review: When the creator and his creation collide

Release Date: 14 May 2021 / Rated: U / 01hr 35min

Cinestaan Rating

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

Rajat Kapoor’s thought-provoking, meta film questions the limits of art and the lure of imagination.

Rajat Kapoor’s latest film RK/RKay is an experiment that explores the limits of one’s creation. Written and directed by Rajat Kapoor, the film features him in a double role and also stars Mallika Sherawat and Ranvir Shorey.

Kapoor plays the writer-director RK, who is also playing the lead actor, Mahboob, in his film. Although the film is completed before time, RK is gnawed by the feeling that there is something missing in it. While editing the film, the editor realises that the main lead is missing! The crew is perplexed and tries to look for Mahboob who has even managed to escape from the negative. But who would know him better than his creator? RK finds him and tries to explain Mahboob’s rather limited existence to him but the character must be coaxed to get back into the film, so it can be suitably completed.

The meta film takes us behind the scenes of a movie set to lay bare the nuts and bolts of shooting a film. This is taken further as we go into the fictive world and the characters seep out of it. This seepage allows Kapoor to weave in questions of the creator and his creativity, bringing to the fore notions of free will and destiny and the creator playing puppeteer with his creation, even wondering about the enthusiasm of the devout and sceptical devotee. 

Paying homage to the melodramas and crime capers of the 1950s and 60s, the film takes us back to the extravagant dialogues, poetry, and the villain with the delightfully arched eyebrow, KN Singh. The posters of La Dolce Vita and The Invisible Man in the editor’s room similarly proclaim Kapoor’s cinephilia.

Mahboob with his poetic expression and naivete is a foil to the rather grumpy RK, and even the filmmaker’s wife Seema (Kubbra Sait) prefers the character to her husband. As Mahboob becomes rather comfortable in RK’s home, we see him infusing a certain charm in their lives, even as the director becomes increasingly lured by his imaginative world. 

Although Mahboob questions his creator, wondering about the ambit of art and the realm that characters inhabit, one wishes for a more engaging exploration down that intriguing rabbit hole. The repartee between the two becomes a tad tired in places, especially when RK completes Mahboob’s sentences to make evident the fact that he is, in fact, his creation. Similarly, Ranvir Shorey’s blind acceptance of the God-like creator and the limits of his agency is another layer that merits a wider probe.

In terms of performances, Kapoor is fabulous in the two roles but Mallika Sherawat plays a rather ineffective Gulabo, unable to summon up either the romance or the supposed allure of her character.

In the end, we are left with the question asked in the film, “Do characters actually exist?” but just as RK feels there is something missing in his film, the sentiment is echoed while watching RK/RKay.


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