Ki and Ka: Gender-bender gone awry
Ki and Ka is touted as a progressive movie that challenges the stereotyped his and her roles in traditional Indian society.
Kia (Kareena Kapoor) and Kabir Mittal (Arjun Kapoor) meet on a flight; attracted by the sound of someone crying, Kia looks around to find her fellow male co-passenger shedding copious tears. He is missing his mama – who died ten years ago! Anyhow, the two get friendly and start meeting often. Kia’s ambition is to become this hotshot businesswoman but she’s always hankered for a “proper” home and family life, while Kabir’s dream is to become a housewife like his sainted mother, even though he is an IIM graduate and has a richie-rich daddy.
Since the dreams seems to be fitting together neatly like a jigsaw puzzle, the two decide to get hitched. Kia’s mother (Swaroop Sampat resurrected) is surprisingly quite supportive, even though she asks a tasteless – and baseless – question like: “Sex ho gaya na?” Mr Mittal (Rajt Kapur) on the other hand, is not so thrilled at the forthcoming nuptials and gives his son quite a tongue lashing related to his chaddi.
Kia and Kabir get married anyway, with cute touches such as Kia tying the mangalsutra around Kabir’s neck and the latter moves in to live with biwi and sasumaa in his sasuraal and takes charge of the kitchen, hisaab-kitaab and jhadoo-poncha.
Fortunately or unfortunately, people from far and wide now begin talking about this strange phenomenon who’s happy being a house husband and has no ego qualms about it. Pretty soon our dude is invited on chat shows and what-not – there is even a whole scene written around Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan where the latter is so enamoured of this ladka that she insists on meeting him and Kabir flies to Bombay to have a meal with the Bachchans. Continuing with the Jaya-Amitabh theme, the movie deftly weaves in the ‘Abhimaan’ angle with a role reversal post interval, where Kia is so jealous that people actually like her husband and want to meet him (go figure!) that she turns into this nasty, shrieking harridan. However, sadda Ka is this eternally forgiving kind and it doesn’t take much for him to smooch-cooch his errant Ki.
The basic, comic premise of Ki and Ka is sound; as a writer, I agree with it and I think the Indian audience has progressed sufficiently to accept such a paradigm shift in thinking. A script such as this can factor in some absolutely hilarious angles and, to be fair, many such moments do exist in the movie. Nonetheless, after a point you begin to wonder where the story is going. It is undeniable that Kareena looks older than her co-star and the script doesn’t disappoint here as we are informed that Kia is three years (well, it’s some concession!) older than Kabir. However, I confess to being surprised that R Balki has gone so off-tangent with the emotional scenes in this movie; the same Balki who gave us the endearing ‘Cheeni Kum’ and ‘Paa.’ It is absolutely shocking that he treated the subject of abortion with such appalling casualness. His Kia is a veritable fishwife in the pregnancy scene.
The Nirbhaya Delhi bus episode has also been a tad tastelessly factored into the storyline, minus the rape. The Women’s Day theme has been bunged in too.The end is tame and sudden; considering all the rotten things Kia said to Kabir, there should have been a proper lead-up to the whole forgiveness angle and Kabir’s character should have had some emotional padding here. Although Arjun Kapoor has done justice to his role, the character itself has not been well fleshed out. I completely concur that a man can be a successful house husband if he puts his mind to it; at a stretch, I will also accept that that rare species does indeed exist – a mature thinking, non-egoistic man (sic!) But Kabir is entirely too passive, abetted by the fact that AK is still too young and inexperienced himself; Kabir is as docile as the browbeaten, belt-beaten wife of many an Indian household even today. Surely if Balki was trying out a radical topic such as gender-bender in an Indian marriage, he could have gone the extra mile and done away with the stereotypes?
Since Ki and Ka is largely set in Delhi, one stereotype I did enjoy and which, surprisingly, went down quite well with the audience too, was the fat-aunty-kitty-party scene with the kahani mein twist that Kabir is hosting it.
The entire maid scene could have been left out of the movie; it does not even make sense why it was written into the script. It is also strange that Balki, being an ad man himself, has this nonsensical belief that one can climb the marketing ladder in leaps and bounds the way Kia does! And why, when Kabir is married to such a successful wife, does he have to go back to disapproving daddy’s house only to pick up his spare set of train signals (yeah, yeah. The lad is addicted to toy trains, sigh!) leading to a totally redundant scene between the two men. Since I’m poking holes anyway, let me just add that that dratted music in the background needs to be turned off, pronto. I don’t know what Ilaiyarajaa was thinking here, but it sounded like cats caterwauling!
The gaggle of aunties have done what was required of them. Rajit Kapur has performed within the chalked outline of his role as a somewhat dyspeptic, despotic papa. The chirrupy, feisty Swaroop Sampat of ‘Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi’ is missing; in her place is a woman so obviously awkward and nervous in front of the camera that it made me cringe each time to watch her.
A lot of the credit for any success of ‘Ki and Ka’ can be put down to Arjun Kapoor’s nonchalance as he effortlessly essayed this role. Very sportingly, he has worn not only the mangalsutra but also pink high heels and carried both off with elan. I have had occasion to say this before and say so again unequivocally – he cannot do the conventional romantic or action hero roles but, given him something hatke like ‘Two States’ or ‘Finding Fanny’ and he redeems himself. I take a certain pride in saying this as I have known him from the time he was a young boy. He should watch out though, as he seems to be getting to Fubbu-esque proportions again!
I never thought to say this, but it is Kareena Kapoor who lets down Ki and Ka. Although there is no chemistry to speak of between the lead pair (the unnecessary kissing scenes lack the requisite passion and come across more as two kiddies playing house-house) there is an obvious comfort level between them that comes through strongly in their scenes together and perhaps this should have been capitalised on rather than introduce a sex tangle. Having said that, this is a Kareena who has not given her all to this film as she usually does; her acting is contrived and it is quite apparent that she is distracted through the movie. Apart from this, she has not focussed on her looks either; her hair is a mess, her make-up sketchy and her dole-shole by God will make any full-blooded Punjabi’s heart swell with pride!
I am confused as to whether the cinematographer (PC Sreeram) ought to be given a bouquet for his realistic photography or handed brickbats for portraying Kareena Kapoor with her age spots visibly showing and that simply god-awful, bleached facial fuzz! The close-ups were horrendous.
Chandan Arora as editor should have pulled up his socks a bit and advised Balki, who was wearing three hats as writer, director and producer, to go chop-chop on the redundant scenes. The songs have been composed by Meet Bros Anjjan and Mithun, while lyrics are by Kumar, Amitabh Bhattacharya and Sayeed Quadri. Without a doubt, the most peppy number is ‘High heels te nache’ by Yo Yo Honey Singh. Except for this number, which too is not particularly outstanding, Bosco-Caesar as choreographers have done nothing much to write home about. Manish Malhotra is credited for costume design; well, he certainly can’t take much credit for Kareena Kapoor in this movie! Arjun Kapoor, on the other hand, is dressed as befits his character Kabir.
Being an ad man first, filmmaker Balki has cleverly merged the two halves of his trade and so we have Saffola sprinkled liberally through the movie, with a dollop of Vistara, which should have neatly taken care of some of the film’s budget, while the Rail Museum in Delhi surely obliged heavily too, seeing as there is a wholly superfluous scene shot there.
Once again, the script is the silent killer.
*Review written exclusively for The Film Writers Association of India