Film Review: 'Ki And Ka'
Opened: 1 April 2016
Cast: Kareena Kapoor Khan, Arjun Kapoor, Swaroop Sampat, Rajit Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan
Producers: R. Balki, R K Damani, Sunil Lulla, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala
"In Hindi not just human beings but also nonliving objects have gender. Everybody and everything is categorised. But this film, like the couple's marriage, underlines the fact that Ki and Ka as genders don't matter" — R. Balki
Why can't men be homemakers, do household chores, gossip with their neighbours and give maids a hard time for abusing their privileges? All the while while the woman goes out and strives to be the breadwinner and attempts to make her mark in a male dominated corporate world? Why must it be the woman to give up her career and dash her aspirations soon after she's married, because that's what expected of her? This isn't a concept that's entirely alien in the West mind. Here more often than not, men do do as many chores as women, while both work, and strive to have families later but perhaps in India, where it's taken for granted, that the woman must always take a backseat, where sons are more celebrated at birth, and gender inequality is more in your face, this isn't always the case. This week's Ki & Ka then, refreshingly choses to address those very stereotypes by pointing a finger at archaic Indian mentalities where we repeatedly berate and undermine a woman's place in society.
It's an interesting premise, and R.Balki's film serves as something of a satire that flips a lot of traditions on their head – the filmmaker's clearly having a blast with the concept but milks it a tad, and is unsure how to wrap it up, which is evident in the film's climax when he makes Kareena Kapoor's character, who's supposed to be quite the focused, practical, ladder climbing bitch, shift gear full throttle into dramatic paranoia mode, and in essence, completely contradicts what the film's message was in the first place.
In Ki & Ka, Arjun plays Kabir, who having lost his mother at an early age, is decidedly against getting too caught up in the corporate rat race. In fact, despite being a bright spark in college, he's perfectly content being a homemaker, and wants nothing to do with daddy's (Rajit Kapoor) corporate empire and has even less interest in his money. Enter Kia (Kareena, looking eye-poppingly gorgeous), a successful, emancipated marketing manager type, living with her mother (Swaroop Sampat) in a small flat in downtown Delhi. She's a woman that lives by her own rules, is unabashedly unapologetic about her ambitions and hell bent on making her own mark in the corporate world. Why give all of that for a fairy tale wedding just to be inconsequential arm candy and be surrounded by annoying in laws, while her husband has all the fun at the office?
Kia and Kabir meet on a domestic flight, sparks fly, they court briefly and get married, and start living a life of bliss, where Kabir is perfectly content donning the apron, while Kia aces business presentations. It's the perfect set up until, Balki, unsure of where to take his script, goes all Abhimaan on us, and infuses the proceedings with some dramatic tension and interrupts a perfectly fluid narrative that was flowing along just fine until then. Subsequently, misunderstandings and petty squabbles abound in a watchable but thoroughly contrived third act which is a shame given that the film had the potential to be a lot more.
Despite its flaws though, both Arjun Kapoor and Kareena keep Ki & Ka chugging along with their affable camaraderie, especially Kareena who appears in a part with some meat after what seems like eons and delivers an unflinchingly natural account of herself, reminding us why she's still one of the best we have.
It is undoubtedly, Ki & Ka's biggest win reminding us of the Kareena Kapoor of yore, in a film that mostly revolves around her character. Expectedly then, she's almost effortless in the part, making one wonder why both filmmakers (and to an extent, herself) continue to criminally waste her talent, in mostly bit parts that do very little to challenge her acting abilities. Arjun's good too, in a role that probably many actors wouldn't come anywhere near, and the banter they have going, at least initially, keeps us engaged and invested in their love story.
Swaroop Sampat is as charming as ever in a small part, and Rajit Kapoor shines in an ill defined character, and perhaps needed more screen time where his quo with his son if fleshed out a little more. Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan in their bit cameos (as themselves) bring the house down, and at one point you almost wish the film had more of them and less of the squabbling between the lead couple which effectively amounts to very little, and after a point begins to wear dangerously thin.
This is exactly a lot of the problem with Ki & Ka though. Kia's incessant, highly strung meltdowns are mostly unwarranted and out of character, making you question how such a practical woman who's all gung-ho about feminism, can fly off the handle at the drop of a hat. This is where the film falters as a whole because, in a desperate bid to inject the film's characters with an arc, Balki goes all tele-serial on us, ironically, something he repeatedly mocks throughout the film. As such, Ki & Ka makes some bold statements on gender equality, but then seems confused on how best to follow up on them, and duct tapes them with the very cliches its trying so hard to abolish, sending out seriously mixed messages in the process!
Still, for all its loose ends I enjoyed Ki & Ka. Like I said, it flips a lot of contrived ideologies on its head, albeit not always successfully, and finally gives Kareena something she can sink her teeth into, which makes a pleasant change. It's just a shame then that at times the film lets both her and Arjun down to an extent. To sum up, a decent one time watch, that's engaging, fun and thought provoking, but sadly, entirely forgettable. I'm going with three stars.