WEB DESK: In the early exchanges between the main leads of R. Balki’s “Ki and Ka”, Kabir (Arjun Kapoor) tells Kia (Kareena Kapoor) that she is a robot who has no feelings or emotions. She in turn accuses him of being a “corporate psychopath” who is against all those making a career for themselves. The lines sound ridiculous – to assume every ambitious person is a robot and that those who don’t harbour corporate ambitions are psychopaths.
But R. Balki is obviously inspired by George Clooney’s memorable line in “Up in the Air”, where he tells an awed intern, “I stereotype. It’s faster.” And so, in the interest of speed, Balki fills “Ki and Ka” with more stereotypes than you can count.
In the guise of a film about a progressive man who stays home while his wife lives the corporate dream, we get a movie that makes sweeping generalizations about both genders.
The women in this film are either like Kia and her mother (Swaroop Sampat), who have a good career but cannot make themselves a decent breakfast; or they are perfect housewives who run a house but are pretty incompetent in other matters and spend all their free time in kitty parties and going to the movie theatre with other housewives.
The men are no different. They are all ruthless corporate hacks who will stop at nothing to get that CEO post and wouldn’t deign to go grocery shopping with their wives. Which is why Balki’s hero, Kabir, is such a novelty. He is a business school topper and heir to a real estate empire, but his only ambition is to be a stay-at-home husband. He marries Kia, who lives with her social-worker mother (FabIndia sarees and oxidized jewellery, because that’s how all NGO wallahs dress) and thinks marriage is a hindrance to a woman’s career.
Balki cannot seem to take the ad film-maker out of him – everything in this film is about smart lines and there are no real plot points, just minor blips in Ka and Ki’s life which allow them to pontificate to others about gender equality and reflect on the role of men and women in the world.
Arjun Kapoor’s smug, know-it-all expressions mirror the condescending tone of the film. Thankfully for the viewer, Kareena Kapoor is in her element, switching gears between comedy and emotion easily enough for you to appreciate how much natural talent she has as an actor.
There is so much to be said about changing roles in today’s India, and films would do well to reflect on this great churn. But R. Balki, like most of Bollywood, would rather not look outside and learn. Why make a real film about real people when you can stereotype. It is faster.