Ki & Ka
Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Swaroop Sampat, Rajit Kapoor
Director: R Balki
It’s not a man’s world, not anymore. At least this is what R Balki’s Ki & Ka tries to establish: In this world, women behave like men, and men are already men. So it’s basically a tale of two men accusing each other of being a man.
Delhi-based Kabir Bansal (Arjun Kapoor) is in line to inherit his father’s multi-crore business conglomerate. Are you also reminded of the AIB Roast? Yes, Arjun Kapoor is playing a North Indian, again. Kabir wants to be like his mother because he believes being a housewife is nothing short of being an artist. One day, he meets a rising corporate star, Kia (Kareena Kapoor Khan), and tries desperately to woo her. However, it’s a daunting task for one simple reason: Kia is unusually ambitious and doesn’t want the marriage to hinder her flight before reaching to the top.
Kabir’s father, Mr Bansal (Rajit Kapur), is not happy with his son’s ‘outlook’, and thus their relationship is very much strained. The bone of contention between the fighting Bansals is the treatment meted out to Kabir’s late mother by Mr Bansal. On the other hand, Kia’s mother (Swaroop Sampat) runs 4-5 NGOs and has also been a single parent. Now, when everyone has a reason to hate marriage, Kia (Ki) and Kabir (Ka) decide to tie the knot, but is this a good idea? Will they be able to sail smoothly through thick and thin? Is gender equality such an easy concept to adapt to?
You become sceptical about a film that advocates gender equality at any cost and opens with a Honey Singh song, but very soon you realise R Balki’s noble intentions. He has set his film in Delhi, a prototype of how ‘not to treat women’ in Bollywood’s eyes. He throws in a few chauvinistic characters around, including some funny bus conductors who teasingly ask: “Arrey madam, Delhi kab se auraton ke liye safe ho gayi (since when Delhi has become safe for women?)”. But, the real story begins once the audience is done with the heavy dose of Kabir’s ‘coolness’ and Kia’s ‘flamboyance’.
It’s a role reversal for Ki and Ka because only one of them can be the ‘man of the relationship’. Kabir doesn’t have any ambitions to become a ‘corporate robot’ and Kia is very much addicted to ‘social limelight’ and earning big bucks. You may get disturbed by the idea of an IIM-B topper playing a complacent ‘house-husband’, but not Delhi’s lovable aunty jees, so the wrinkles take some time to surface, but once it happens, everything becomes crystal clear. Here we find for the first time that the power equation of a relationship can ruin it forever.
The film presents an idea that it’s an individual’s choice to become a househusband or a housewife, but it never talks about financial freedom and what effect it will have on age-old gender roles in the relationship.That’s just one part of it though.
Ki & Ka is literally about turning the tables. We actually see people in restaurants coming to Kareena and Arjun respectively with photo requests at two different junctures in the film. And, before you say Abhimaan, let me tell you that Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan also feature in the film, but those are the best moments of this film.
The conversation between Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan is so real and hard hitting that it forces you to re-examine the situation carefully. It filters the debate of both genders being equal ‘inside a family’ by posing some serious questions. They’re so good with their expressions that it almost seems like an inward journey for them.
There is no denying that Ki & Ka has a noble concept, but hasn’t the director very conveniently confined himself to a comfort zone where he only needs to break some generalised stereotypes such as ‘women can’t be ambitious’ or ‘men can’t cook at home’ or ‘a woman’s career is finished after pregnancy’? The idea of one being superior to the other is deep rooted in our psyche, and that can be addressed when both the genders work for the same goal and not limit themselves with mere role exchange.
Ki & Ka is an important film because it talks about some unconventional and rather tough relationship goals, but it mostly remains a film which is immensely in love with melodrama. The characters converse in a strange tone and have outbursts at regular intervals. And then you remember what Arjun Kapoor’s character says in the beginning: “Har scene ko TV serials ki tarah finish karoonga (Will end every scenes like a TV serial)”, or something to the same effect. Basically with a hook point, but that makes the proceedings too obvious and predictable.
It’s the lead actors’ spontaneity that saves this 126-minute film. Both Arjun and Kareena look at ease and are ably supported by Swaroop Sampat and Rajit Kapoor. Kareena Kapoor’s best comes out in the scene where she delivers a long monologue on being manipulative. Only if the dialogues could have been as natural as her. Arjun Kapoor focuses on being the most lovable male around and succeeds.
Too much breakfast and coffee table drama make this well intentioned film lose steam. Ki & Ka isn’t a strong voice against gender stereotyping, but it’s one of its kind in mainstream Hindi film industry, and that makes it notice-worthy.