Film Review: RK/RKAY

STUDIO: Outsider Pictures | DIRECTOR: Rajat Kapoor | CAST: Rajat Kapoor, Mallika Sherawat, Ranvir Shorey, Chandrachoor Rai, Kubbra Sait,
RELEASE DATE: May 14, 2021
SPECS: NR | 95 min. | Foreign language comedy | Hindi and English languages with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  1/2

A meta-meshing of the ideas that clicked wonderfully in Francois Truffaut’s Day for Night and Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo, RK/RKAY is a film lover’s movie through and through. In Hindi and English languages with English subtitles, the film is also a Bollywood film that defies Indian film industry standards. For starters, it runs a crisp 95 minutes, unlike many Bollywood epics that typically go for over 2 ½ hours. There is no elaborate music or dance numbers and the common overheated soap opera elements are non-existent.

The plot of RK/RKAY is fairly simple, but things get more complicated as it moves along. RK (writer/director Rajat Kapoor, Kadakh) is a troubled film director whos is also starring in his latest project, a crime thriller in which he plays a character named Mahboob (Kapoor, again). While editing the film, RK has a bad feeling that the film isn’t working, but soon discovers something worse: The fictional Mahboob character has miraculously disappeared from the all footage that was shot.  The bizarre occurrence places the fate of the film and its budget money on the line, as the director and his cohorts have to figure out how to track Mahboob down in the real world and get him back into the movie.

Like Day for Night, RK/RKAY paints an insightful and affectionate survey of what goes into making a film. And similarly to The Purple Rose of Cairo, the movie delights at the gimmick of shifting “reel” characters into “real” characters (an idea that goes back to Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. in 1924). Here, magical-realism is served with a dose of existentialism, which adds some heft to the proceedings and helps make it entertaining and thought-provoking.

Rajat Kapoor’s comic timing on and behind the camera and his seamless dual performances are quite impressive here. Also on hand are such beautiful Bollywood favorites as Kubbra Sait (Jawaani Jaaneman), along with Mallika Sherawat (Time Raiders) in two parts, limning both a temperamental actress that the crew dislikes and the romantic female lead in the fictional film within the film.

RK/RKAY isn’t as lavish as many Bollywood productions—it was actually shot on a relatively low-budget with crowd-funded money—but it shows how far inspiration and knowing satire can go with limited funds, even in Mumbai.


About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.