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AK vs AK is a pretentious, self-indulgent film that offers little novelty

Murtaza Ali Khan

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“Metacinema, also meta-cinema, is a mode of filmmaking in which the film informs the audience that they are watching a work of fiction,” as per Wikipedia. In other words, it often references to its own production, thereby working against the narrative conventions that aim to create an immersive experience for the viewer. Now, some filmmakers go to great lengths to ensure that the viewer completely forgets that he/she

is watching a film. Take, for example, the case of Christopher Nolan who consciously changed the setting of a key scene in Batman Begins to an opera house instead of the cinema hall setting in the original text in order to ensure that the attention of the viewers is never drawn to the idea of watching a film in a cinema hall while watching the scene. Similarly, we also have filmmakers like Woody Allen who take the completely opposite

route and go meta every time they see the creative possibility. Vikramaditya Motwane, in his latest film, AK vs AK, which recently premiered on Netflix, too opts to take the meta route. Presented in a style that closely resembles a fly-on-the-wall documentary, AK vs AK follows a brash film director (Anurag Kashyap, as himself) who kidnaps the

daughter of a movie star (Anil Kapoor, as himself) with the aim of filming the star’s desperate search for his daughter in real-time as his next blockbuster.

Now, meta-films aren’t new to Hindi cinema. Over the years we have seen films like Guru Dutt’s Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Guddi (1971), Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Khamosh (1985), Sudhir Mishra’s Khoya Khoya Chand (2007), Zoya Akhtar’s Luck by Chance (2009), and Maneesh Sharma’s Fan (2016). But, apparently, what’s different about AK vs AK is how it adopts a fly-on-the-wall documentary style to tell a story that’s highly fictional in nature, despite featuring several characters which are based on real people from the Hindi film industry. But, it’s nothing we haven’t already seen in world cinema. Here one is first and foremost reminded of Jean-Luc Godard’s French New Wave classic Le Mépris (1963), wherein the legendary German film director Fritz Lang plays himself. But, perhaps, a more interesting example is Abbas Kiarostami’s documentary and fiction hybrid Close-Up (1990), the film tells the true story of a cinephile named Hossain Sabzian who while impersonating the Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf conned a family into believing that they would cast in his next film. Kiarostami makes actual people play themselves, including Makhmalbaf and Sabzian. 

 Spike Jonze’s Adaptation (2002) is another film that cannot be overlooked while discussing the subject of meta-cinema. Written by none other than the meta-master Charlie Kaufman himself, Adaptation follows a screenwriter struggling to adapt a book. Interestingly, Kaufman’s own struggles while trying to adapt Susan Orlean’s book titled ‘The Orchid Thief’ became major influence behind writing the screenplay for Adaptation. Another very fine meta-film that comes to mind is E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire (2000). The film begins as a fictionalized documentary account of the making the legendary German filmmaker F. W. Murnau’s classic vampire film Nosferatu (1922), but, fascinatingly, it ends up becoming a spine-chilling vampire film in its own right. In his recent film Pain and Glory (2019), the Spanish master filmmaker Pedro Almodovar takes the autobiographical route by telling the poignant story of a filmmaker resembling himself. In the final scene of the movie, the camera zooms out to reveal the crew along with the shooting equipment. The Chilean-French filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky did something very similar in his 1973 Mexican surreal-fantasy film The Holy Mountain. And who can forget Billy Wilder’s film noir classic Sunset Blvd. (1950) which takes the idea of meta-cinema to nigh unattainable heights when it ends with its lead character Norma Desmond, a long-forgotten silent film Star, walking down the aisle and commanding the legendary American filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille (playing himself), while facing the cameras, “All right, Mr. DeMille, I am ready for my close-up.” Here, I would be remiss not to mention Mani Ratnam’s 1997 political drama Iruvar which is inspired by the friendship and rivalry of writer-turned-politician M. Karunanidhi and actor-turned-politician M. G. Ramachandran. 

 So now that we have discussed various examples of meta-cinema in Indian as well as world cinema, let’s try and closely analyse AK vs AK and try and figure out where it stands in comparison. Now, a major drawback of the film is that it takes so many things for granted. The viewers are supposed to already know that Anurag Kashyap is asthmatic and that his younger brother is also a film director. They are also expected to know that Anil Kapoor’s daughter Sonam is a fairly successful actor in Bollywood while his son Harshvardhan is a flop actor who is out of work. And that Anil’s elder brother is a film producer. Isn’t Netflix’s content meant to be watched internationally? Interestingly, some unsuspecting critics have praised AK vs AK for its boldness and innovation. But, frankly, it offers little novelty, whether one speaks of content or form. While we should certainly welcome storytelling experiments, it is equally important not to take such pretentious, self-indulgent films too seriously. Netflix India really needs to raise the bar before it greenlights the next project.

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Ryan Gosling to headline ‘The Actor’ movie adaptation

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Washington [US], February 25 (ANI): Hollywood star Ryan Gosling is set to play the lead role in ‘The Actor’, an upcoming adaptation of Donald E Westlake’s novel ‘Memory’.
As per The Hollywood Reporter, Duke Johnson will helm the forthcoming movie and produce it with Abigail Spencer under their Innerlight Films production banner.
Gosling, who will also bankroll the film alongside Ken Kao, will play the lead role of Paul Cole, who must deal with his damaged memory as he struggles to rebuild his life after being left for dead and hospitalised in 1950s Ohio.
Gosling’s character Cole will follow a thrilling journey to find home, love, and ultimately himself. Gosling and Kao’s partnership follows their recent project announcements of Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s ‘Project Hail Mary’ at MGM and Leigh Whannell’s ‘Wolfman’ at Universal.
Paul Young is also producing the film through his company Make Good. Apart from helming the film, Johnson co-wrote the screenplay with Stephen Cooney, based on Westlake’s novel.
Meanwhile, Gosling has a number of projects in the pipeline, including Netflix’s ‘The Gray Man’, which also features actor Chris Evans and hails from the Russo brothers.
He will also feature in filmmaker duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s astronaut movie titled ‘Project Hail Mary’ and Leigh Whannell’s ‘Wolfman’ movie. (ANI)

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Tom Holland reveals real ‘Spider-Man 3’ title after trolling fans

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Washington [US], February 25 (ANI): Actor Tom Holland has finally revealed the real title of the third installment in the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise after the star cast of the film trolled fans with their own version of fake titles.
The real title for the latest installment in the superhero franchise is ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’.
Holland took to his Instagram account on Wednesday night to reveal the title of the film. Holland and his co-stars Zendaya and Jacob Batalon appear in a 30-second clip, which begins with Holland walking out of director Jon Watts’ office and lamenting over being given a fake title for the film.
Holland says in the video, “He gave us a fake name again … I just don’t understand why he keeps doing this.”
“You don’t understand? I feel like it’s pretty obvious. You spoil things,” Batalon responds, teasing the star’s reputation for sharing details of the superhero films before they are public knowledge.
“I don’t spoil things. Name me one thing I’ve actually spoiled,” Holland shoots back, as Zendaya chimes in, “The last movie title.”
The camera then zooms in on a whiteboard displaying a number of potential titles, with ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ featured at the centre.
The upcoming film is slated to release on December 17, this year. On Tuesday, Holland, Zendaya, and Batalon had posted never-before-seen stills from the upcoming movie – and announced three different titles.
Holland’s suggested title read ‘Phone Home’, referring to the 1982 film ‘E.T.’, Zendaya’s was ‘Home Slice’ and Batalon’s featured the title ‘Home-Wrecker’.
‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ also features actor Benedict Cumberbatch as Marvel mainstay Doctor Strange and is rumoured to delve into the multiverse as it will also unite separate generations of Spider-Man films.
Alfred Molina, who played Doctor Octopus in Tobey Maguire’s ‘Spider-Man 2’, will appear. So will Jamie Foxx, playing Electro, the villain he portrayed in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which starred Andrew Garfield.
Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers have written the script for the forthcoming Marvel film.
Filmmaker Jon Watts has helmed the upcoming movie after directing ‘Spider-Man Homecoming’ (2017) and ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ (2019), which earned more than USD 1.1 billion globally, making it the highest-grossing ‘Spider-Man’ movie of all time. (ANI)

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Jack Giarraputo launches creative advertising agency Slice Collective

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Washington [US], February 25 (ANI): American film Producer Jack Giarraputo, whose films have grossed over USD 4B at the global box office, has launched Slice Collective, a full-service creative advertising agency that produces Hollywood-level campaigns for clients around the world.
The company, co-founded with investment banker Abhishek Som (former Lazard, IEG, and Private Equity) is disrupting the industry through global access to top-level creative marketing talent.
Giarraputo said, “We are a Hollywood-based agency with an international roster of creative talent, which leads to new ideas and a fresh perspective on global marketing campaigns. Our international setup enables us to take advantage of cost efficiencies, allowing us to service a growing list of micro targets with effective messaging. We are on the road towards personalized marketing, which was once considered cost-prohibitive but now getting closer to reality.”
Som said, “Our work in the U.S. and beyond has validated the idea that our international creatives can deliver in a way that is just as compelling as their American counterparts.”
Leading the Slice team is Leo Draper, former VP Creative Advertising, Sony Pictures, and StudioCanal executive joined by Nick Herbst, who manages business development.

Additionally, Reliance Entertainment veteran Medha Jaishankar will be serving as media advisor. (ANI)

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Ishaan Khatter shares adorable throwback picture to wish Shahid Kapoor on birthday

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New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): We all have fond memories from our childhood, and who doesn’t like looking at old pictures with siblings? As Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor turns a year older today, his brother and actor Ishaan Khatter shared a heartwarming birthday wish with an unseen throwback picture to mark the special day.
Ishaan took to Instagram and posted a then and now picture with his ‘bade bhai’ to wish the birthday boy. The ‘Dhadak’ actor shared a collage of two pictures – one from their childhood that features a young Shahid holding Ishaan in his arms. Another picture showed the grown-up sibling duo posing together from their appearance in Karan Johar’s talk show ‘Koffee With Karan’.
Sharing the adorable images, Ishaan wrote a few lines the famous song ‘Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli’. He captioned the post, “Zindagiiiiii kaisi hai paheli haaye. Kabhi toh hasaaye, Kabhi yeh rulaaye. But through it all.. I’ll always love you, bade bhai. Happy birthday.”

Ace filmmaker Zoya Akhtar was among the first ones to comment on the post with a heart emoji. Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana also showered love on the sibling duo with a heart emoji.
Shahid and Ishaan are amongst the cutest brothers in the industry. They always talk fondly of each other and never stop motivating each other and appreciating one another’s performances.
Ishaan, who was recently seen in Mira Nair’s web series ‘A Suitable Boy’ has often expressed his love for his brother. On social media, they keep showering each other’s posts with witty and adorable comments.
Meanwhile, on the work front, Shahid will next be seen in ‘Jersey’, which also features Mrunal Thakur and Pankaj Kapur. The actor will be essaying the role of a cricketer in the film. It is a remake of a Telugu movie of the same name.
On the other hand, Ishaan will next be seen in ‘Phone Bhoot’ co-starring Katrina Kaif and Siddhant Chaturvedi. (ANI)

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HOW KAJOL, AJAY CELEBRATED 22 YEARS OF TOGETHERNESS

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NEW DELHI: Commemorating 22 years of blissful marriage, Kajol and Ajay Devgn on Wednesday shared adorable posts on social media to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ star hopped on to Instagram and shared a cute picture featuring her and Ajay as they can be seen embracing each other’s company on a cruise.

The photo sees a noteworthy moment between the two as Kajol sits on the floor of the deck with her heels off and romantically looks in her husband’s eyes while he reciprocates by smiling back at her. Dressed in an orange long dress, Kajol looks gorgeous in the throwback picture while Ajay looks handsome in a white printed shirt and grey pair of denims.

The much-in-love couple seems to cherish their time on a holiday over the cruise. Explaining why she is staring at her husband, Kajol wrote in the caption, “And you sir, you’re very attractive. Therefore, I will stare at you! – Anonymous & Me. #22years #stillgoing #grateful #laughingalways.”  

Ajay too shared a funny post on Instagram to celebrate his and Kajol’s 22nd wedding anniversary. The couple tied the knot in 1999, and Ajay in his post made a pun on the word ‘bottled’. The ‘Drishyam’ star shared a picture of a bottle of wine with ‘Battled in 1999, only edition’ printed on the label, besides a sketch of the couple. There was a wine glass next to the bottle. The duo was last seen together on screen in the 2020 film ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’. They are parents of 17-year-old Nysa and 10-year-old Yug. 

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AYUSHMANN MEETS SHILLONG YOUTH WHO GATE-CRASHED HIS HOTEL

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Ayushmann Khurrana, who was shooting for Anubhav Sinha’s next titled ‘Anek’ in Shillong, had about 200 youngsters gate-crash his hotel to meet the actor. Ayushmann, who portrays diverse roles with perfection, has built a name for himself in the Hindi film industry by choosing films that are offbeat, unique, and socially relevant.

An eye-witness from Shillong commenting on the incident said, “Post the day’s shoot wrap, Ayushmann returned to the hotel and headed to eat dinner. In 15 minutes, there were about 200-250 college students from Shillong outside the hotel wanting to meet him and he was promptly informed about the same. Ayushmann had just started eating his food but on hearing this, he left his meal and immediately went to the lobby to meet them.”

The source added, “Ayushmann told his team that he didn’t want them to wait for him. He wanted to quickly go down and meet the college students so that they can go to their homes early. Even they were surprised to see Ayushmann coming out so quickly to meet them.”

“They loved his warm and thoughtful gesture and started chanting his name. Ayushmann met each one of them individually and took pictures with them. He made the evening really special for them,” the source further said. According to the Indian Institute of Human Brands survey, India identifies most with Ayushmann as he is currently the ‘Most Relatable Star’ in the country. As an outsider to Bollywood, his journey to stardom is inspiring for the youth of the country who want to dream big without any apprehension. Apart from ‘Anek’, Ayushmann will also be seen in Abhishek Kapoor’s ‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’, and Anubhuti Kashyap’s ‘Doctor G’.

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