Eros International and Hope Productions’ Ki & Ka (UA) is a story about role reversals. It is the tale of a girl and a boy who live in Delhi and who have different aspirations.
Kia (Kareena Kapoor Khan) is a very ambitious career woman. Kabir Bansal (Arjun Kapoor) is the son of a very rich builder (Rajit Kapoor). Kabir does not want to join his father in business because he doesn’t think much of businessmen. Rather, he wants to be like his mother who is no more and whom he idolises. His mother was a housewife who had died young, perhaps, because his father had, like many successful men, ridiculed the mother for doing nothing worthwhile in life. According to Kabir, his mother was an artiste who had mastered the art of keeping house.
Kia and Kabir meet quite by chance and hit it off instantly. Kabir is fascinated by Kia’s ambitions and dreams while Kia is flabbergasted to know that Kabir wants to be a home-maker like his mother. Soon, Kabir proposes marriage to Kia.
Kia accepts the marriage proposal because Kabir promises to look after the house as a house-husband so that Kia can pursue her dreams. Kia’s mother (Swaroop Sampat) is also thrilled with the arrangement. Kia and Kabir get married and life is quite hunky-dory.
Quite by chance, Kabir’s role as a house-husband gets some media coverage and slowly but surely, Kabir starts getting more and more popular. He makes several appearances on television chat shows and, at times, is even invited by corporate houses, including the one in which Kia works, to deliver motivational lectures. Kia soon starts resenting Kabir’s popularity, and, sensing her discomfort, Kabir promises to concentrate on their home while shunning the limelight.
Then, one day, Kabir makes an exception and appears on a television chat show for a friend. This also doesn’t go down well with Kia. This last television appearance of Kabir impresses film actress Jaya Bachchan (Jaya Bachchan herself) so much that she asks actor-husband Amitabh Bachchan (Amitabh Bachchan himself) to invite Kabir home. Kabir goes to Bombay to meet the Bachchans while Kia is away in the USA for work.
During his absence, a calamity forces Kia to cut short her US trip and return to Delhi. Already upset due to Kabir’s growing popularity, Kia now gives such a terrible piece of her mind to Kabir that he calls it quits and leaves Kia.
What was the calamity? Why was Kia so upset with Kabir? Does Kia make up with Kabir? Or does Kabir apologise? Or do the two go their separate ways?
Balki’s screenplay messes it up at several points. For one, although it sets out to change centuries-old beliefs and practices, it also trivialises the radical premise by cracking jokes about gender stereotypes. This confuses the audience which wonders whether the film is meant to be taken as a comedy or a serious comment. Yes, there will be a section of the viewers – mainly youngsters residing in cities – who will laugh at the jokes but several among them will laugh for the wrong reasons.Balki has written a story with a premise which seeks to turn some age-old beliefs on their head. In the Indian context, men are supposed to be bread-winners while women, even if they are working women, are meant to be the home-makers. Balki’s story tries to demolish these stereotypes and professes that not only can women be as successful in purely or predominantly male domains but males can also be good house-husbands. While several career women do make it big in real life, one doesn’t hear of too many men opting to be house-husbands. As such, the premise or the foundation on which the film rests is very radically different from what exists in real life and, therefore, despite the novelty factor, the appeal of the subject is very limited. Frankly, audiences outside the big cities will find the premise too bold for comfort and many among them will look down upon a ‘bold’ woman like Kia and actually doubt the masculinity of a man like Kabir. In other words, a good chunk of the audience will sympathise with neither Kia nor Kabir. But the youth in the big cities would definitely find the different and unusual premise of the film quite interesting.
What seems very contrived is the ease with which Kia, Kabir and Kia’s mother accept the unusual arrangement as if it were oh so routine. Perhaps, Kabir’s father is the only dissenting voice – and even his way of showing dissent (the chaddi khol kar dekh le dialogue) is rather repulsive. As if the easy acceptance of the radical thought by the affected people is not shocking enough, everyone around Kia and Kabir also accept the concept of the house-husband so easily that it almost prompts the audiences to doubt their own thinking and assume that they belong to an altogether different era from the one to which Kia and Kabir and even Kia’s mother belong. And the unabashed mention by Kia’s mother of pre-marital sex leaves a bad taste in the viewer’s mouth.
There is not much consistency in the characterisations. Kia is shown to be a go-getter and ambitious to the point of madness but she falls prey to the emotion of jealousy so easily. There would’ve been no harm in that too, had the film not been so radical in its premise. But, for the heroine of a film so bold and so different in its premise to be swayed so easily by a routine emotion of jealousy – which is associated with the stereotypical woman – seems a contradiction. Similarly, Kabir’s father is shown to be embarrassed about his son’s house-husband status but he is also shown to be cracking a joke about the same in front of others. And no, Mr. Bansal is a serious businessman, not a comedian.
Again, it is not clear to the audience why Kia is so upset with Kabir’s popularity. After all, Kabir’s popularity is in no way, repeat, in no way, posing a threat to her ambitions and dreams. Had his popularity threatened her rise as a career-woman, the emotion of jealously would at least have been somewhat justified. The Abhimaan angle, which the writer invokes here in reverse mode (in that film, Amitabh Bachchan resents the growing popularity of his wife, Jaya Bachchan, whereas in this film, Kia is upset about the growing popularity of her husband, Kabir), does not work here because while in Abhimaan, both, Amitabh and Jaya, were in the same field (of singing), the fields of Kia and Kabir are not at all same, similar or even remotely connected. Likewise, it is not clear why film actress Jaya Bachchan compliments Kia so much in her letter. The person who needs to be praised is Kabir, not Kia. Clearly, the letter is a convenient twist in the tale to make Kia have a change of heart – but this looks incorrect. Kabir’s sermon about not wanting to do business – because business people are blinded by the lure of money and ultimately end up in a swanky hospital – is silly and rather stupid. Writer R. Balki, in a bid to justify Kabir’s house-husband stance, goes overboard. He didn’t need to do that.
No doubt, the second half of the film is more interesting than the first half because of the differences between Kia and Kabir, tension and conflict but it must be added that speaking purely from the point of view of screenplay-writing, the conflict in the film is wrong and contrived. All in all, the screenplay looks like a hurried job, done carelessly. R. Balki’s dialogues are good at places but not consistently so.
Kareena Kapoor Khan gives her role a good shot. She acts in a manner that her character looks believable. She looks fantastic. Arjun Kapoor is alright but limited in his acting. He is unable to change his expressions and believes in always rattling off his dialogues in a matter-of-fact manner, whatever the situation. Swaroop Sampat does an ordinary job as the mother of Kia. In the role of Kabir’s father, Rajit Kapur stands his own and is earnest. Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan, both in friendly appearances, are natural. Shonali leaves a mark as Kia’s maid. Purshottam Mulani (as Kia’s landlord) and the others lend able support.
R. Balki’s direction, like his script, would appeal only to one section of the audience. His narration lacks the sensitivity that was needed for a subject of the kind he has chosen. Music (Meet Bros., Ilaiyaraaja and Mithoon) is a plus point. The ‘High-heel’ (Meet Bros.), ‘Jee huzoori nahi’ (Mithoon) and ‘Yeh hai most wanted munda’ (Meet Bros.) are already very popular songs. The placement of the ‘High-heel’ song (right at the start of the film) is not the best one. Lyrics (Kumaar, Amitabh Bhattacharya and Saeed Quadri) are appropriate. Song picturisations (choreography by Bosco-Caesar and Feroz Khan) are alright. Ilaiyaraaja’s background music is good. P.C. Sreeram’s camerawork is of a very good standard. Amar Shetty’s action scene is hardly necessary. Rupin Suchak’s production design is nice. Chandan Arora’s editing needed to be crisper.
On the whole, Ki & Ka has a novel premise but the structure built over the new foundation is not half as entertaining as it should’ve been. It will work in some multiplexes of the big cities mainly but that won’t be enough to make the concerned people laugh all the way to the bank. Business in most of the single-screen cinemas and in mass-frequented cinemas and small and medium centres will be dull.