You might not normally pursue Indian cinema, but RK/RKAY is the perfect introductory film if you’re new to foreign films (or even if you’re not).
I often make the mistake of thinking that people don’t watch much of what I don’t watch. That means that if I don’t watch Indian films, they probably don’t either. But I am known to live in a bubble so I asked a few people online what their level of familiarity was with Indian cinema.
I posed some general questions to my online audience to make sure I wasn’t projecting my own personal limitations when it comes to Indian cinema.
Have you ever seen an Indian film?
If yes, tell me which one(s) you’ve seen.
If no, can you at least name some well known Indian films?
They mentioned a few well known films like Bride and Prejudice, Salaam Bombay and Slumdog Millionaire. After that, nothing.
I’m kind of in the same boat. When one of my YouTube viewers requested that I explore an upcoming popular Indian film, I caught a little online flak for my trailer reaction to War because I seemingly knew nothing of Indian cinema. And my viewers let me know it.
But my audience was right. I haven’t explored Indian films as much as I should. And I’m determined to broaden my horizons, starting with a charming little movie called RK/RKAY.
RK is a writer, director, and star of a new film that’s intended to be a throwback to campy gangster films of the 50s and 60s. It’s a bit of an adventure and love story with an unhappy ending for the lead character, Mahboob. The first 30 minutes of the film is really about the making of the film – poking fun at the audition process, the high maintenance actors, the behind-the-scenes magic of moviemaking.
It’s a movie within a movie but it gets even trickier.
And then in the editing room, something goes wrong. As the editor is trying to tighten up the story, other crew members share their dismay at the storyline. Mahboob, the hero, doesn’t get his happy ending. And they predict audiences won’t be happy either.
Soon after, the editor discovers that Mahboob has mysteriously disappeared from the film. There’s no trace of him onscreen or in any of the negatives. He simply walked out of the film.
He’s soon located in the real world. And although they never address how exactly this happens, they know that they need to figure out how to return him so that the film can be wrapped.
If you can think all the way back to the 1985 Woody Allen flick, The Purple Rose of Cairo, you’ll definitely find some similarities (I had to dust off a few corners of my brain to remember that one). But this is a fresh and fun take.
Rajat Kapoor, much like the title character RK in the film, is the writer, director, and lead actor of this actual movie, and in the movie within the movie. He’s known as the “godfather” of Indian independent film, having worked in the industry since 1989.
He has double duty in this film playing two very different versions of himself both created from his own mind.
Mallika Sherawat receives second billing as the difficult and temperamental lead actress, Neha, who plays the film role of Gulabo. She, too, plays contrasting roles – one who pines for her love, Mahboob. The other who IS a boob.
Sherawat is lauded as one of the most popular actresses in Bollywood.
Where to See RK/RKAY
RK/RKAY has made the rounds at several film festivals and will soon be opening on 100+ screens throughout North America (in theater and virtual cinema).
More details and theater locations here.
Why You Should See It
This is a fun, light-hearted but captivating movie. And if you haven’t seen an Indian film, you’ll be surprised that the dialogue is in both Hindi and English (they seem to be woven together through most scenes) with English subtitles.
Also, Outsider Pictures will donate $1 per ticket sold to Covid relief in India through the following organization: https://www.helpageindia.org.
Video Review of RK/RKAY
Release Date: Theatrical run starts 5/14/21 in physical and virtual cinemas
Running Time: 95 minutes, 1:1.85 5.1 Sound, Color
Rating: Unrated (most likely rating would be PG-13)