It has been a week since director R Balki’s latest venture ‘Ki & Ka’ hit the screens across India. While the critics came down quite strongly with their scathing reviews giving the film an average of 2 -2.5 stars, the audience in general seem to have accepted it and the film has done very good business in its first week. Considering the unique theme of the film and the absence of any big star, this is quite an achievement.
All those who have seen Balki’s earlier films- Cheeni Kum, Paa and Shamitabh- will by now be familiar with his penchant for unusual storylines and well-defined characters. In Ki & Ka also he has chosen a unique subject of ‘gender reversal’.
The film takes us on an imaginary ride of what all can happen if the roles, as ‘conceived’ by our society all these years, are reversed for a man and woman. “What if, in a marriage, the woman decides to go out and earn and the man decides to stay at home and cook, clean and manage the house?”- is the question the film poses. It is the story of a couple wherein the wife is shown to be a hard core professional, a workaholic, whose sole aim in life is to climb up the corporate ladder as fast as possible and become the CEO of the company which according to her is the ultimate thing to be achieved in life. Her husband on the other hand is very unique as he has no interest in working in any office or be part of the usual ‘rat-race’ in any business but just wants to be a home-maker.
Everything is fine for a while till he starts getting popularity inadvertently for being such a sweet, understanding and supportive husband to the woman he loves. Suddenly he is sought after by different companies, women’s organizations, cookery shows (he is shown to be an expert chef) to come and deliver talks on gender equality and how roles should not be compartmentalized for men and women and that it should be left to the individual to make the choice to pursue what they want in life.
Unexpected popularity obviously brings in unexpected ego issues and Kareena is not able to handle the sudden attention being bestowed on Arjun Kapoor. According to her he should just remain her husband and not really have an identity of his own because he is not the earning member and so does not deserve all this attention. The film thus beautifully highlights the plight of a home-maker and throws up many questions about his/her value and contribution in building a life. So often is the person staying at home taken for granted and for lack of any ‘earned’ income their role is undermined.
Any marriage comes with its share of problems and so is the case with this couple also. In fact the gist of the film is beautifully brought out towards the end of the film by Swaroop Sampat, who plays Kareena’s mom. She explains how the partner who goes out to earn, irrespective of whether it is the man or the woman, automatically starts believing that he or she is the more important and powerful person in the relationship and the one who stays at home and looks after the members but does not draw a salary for it, attains secondary importance. This ultimately leads to ego issues and hurtful situations and sometimes damage beyond repair takes place.
The film also makes us think –Why is it considered wrong for a woman to be career-oriented or ambitious? Why is a man considered to be a weirdo by his own family members themselves, if he wants to look after the house? There is another point which comes to fore- Usually women never tire of cribbing about the lack of their husband’s involvement in household chores but here she gets a man who does everything for her and yet she is not happy…
The director makes us ponder on some relevant points-How many of us in real life would be willing to accept this kind of gender reversal? As a society, we seem fine when it comes to a woman being a home-maker but the moment it is a man we think he is wasting his time and not contributing to society and living off his wife’s income… So can such an imaginary situation ever become a reality? And if it does become, will it bring happiness ?…
One of the best things about the film is that there are no preachy messages and advice offered. In fact, the film tells us not to be harsh and judgemental towards any one person, instead it throws up valid points and questions to be reflected upon…
In terms of performances, Arjun Kapoor gives yet another sensitive performance after his superb act in ‘2 States’. He carries off the role with an endearing finesse and aplomb and the fact that his character in the film like in his real life, has lost his mother to whom he was very attached seems to give him a better understanding of the role adding a quiet dignity to it. Kareena looks her age and after a long time has taken a film which showcases her talent and not her item numbers. She is perfectly cast and looks stunning. It was nice seeing Swaroop Sampat on screen after ages. Music is a big let-down and the songs could have been better.
The film is not without its minus points and a few clichéd things but on the whole, it was thoroughly enjoyable. Balki has hit the right note!!!