By Anuradha Varma
I’m still on the fence about how much I liked or didn’t like the film, but I definitely enjoyed the take on gender and power play towards the end. And, should we expect a Ki & Ka Part 2?
SPOILER ALERT, if you haven’t seen the film!
I enjoyed Ki & Ka, which is not saying much because unlike a professional film reviewer, I have a high pain threshold when it comes to Bollywood movies. I enjoyed seeing Kareena Kapoor Khan getting screen time after a long time, instead of being a prop to one of the Khans. And I enjoyed the way the age difference between them was handled, smartly playing it as a non-issue without shouting it out from the rooftops.
While the entire film is about Ki vs Ka and how society reacts when gender roles are reversed and, in this particular case, the husband decides to stay home and takes “ghar ka kharch” or spending money from his working wife, the beauty is in the end. Kareena, or Ki, used to the bright lights as she climbs the corporate ladder is resentful when Arjun or Ka starts getting his own share of the spotlight as he gets feted for being the house-husband. Suddenly, meals aren’t ready on time, clothes aren’t pressed and ready and he isn’t home waiting for her when she gets back from work. And, that’s when she loses it. Just like a man, we would say! But here’s the difference. In a climactic scene, Swaroop Sampat, who plays Kareena’s mom and Arjun’s mother-in-law, explains to her that it’s a “very human” reaction. When Ki protests that she is “not like that” and didn’t mean all the hurtful things she said, her mother says, “But, of course, you did.” And then explains that it’s not about Ki or Ka but the power equation shifting in favour of the person who is bringing home the money, to the point that the other almost disappears. And, of course, when the person in the background starts getting some attention, the one holding the reins of power is not going to like it. She concludes by telling her daughter that the lovely thing is that she wants to change!
Suddenly it’s not about Ki or Ka but just a very human failing. This is a wonderful takeaway for anyone who is, well, human! This, for me, was the beauty of the film, transcending gender, without rubbing our noses in it with a moral lecture and loud background music. In fact, I’ll say that I’m still on the fence about how much I liked or didn’t like the film, but I definitely enjoyed this take on gender and power play.
In the interlude with Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan, which unfortunately felt somewhat jarring (you suspect they’re there because they’re the director’s friends and he loves them, plus the “Abhimaan” angle), I nevertheless liked Amitabh’s question, “Do they have kids?” Since that’s important, you know, to see how the gender roles play out. Maybe the film took the easy way out by avoiding that one. Or in this age of sequels, do we expect a Part 2?
So, while R Balki’s Ki & Ka may not fall in the category of classics and may fall short of his own memorable Cheeni Kum or Paa in terms of script—and mercifully didn’t give us a headache like Shamitabh—it does deliver a special message. Special thanks, too, to R Balki for getting us Jaya Bachchan, Swaroop Sampat and Rajit Kapoor on screen. Amitabh Bachchan, we’re used to, it’s Jaya and her “natural” acting that we miss! And, we still haven’t forgotten Rajit Kapoor and Shernaz Patel in the play Love Letters (Tumhari Amrita in English!). It’s wonderful when filmmakers bring us these actors. But, next time, please give them longer roles!