Home >Opinion >Ki & Ka: A lesson in marrying well

Spoiler alert: Although there is no plot twist in Ki & Ka, if you haven’t seen the film and are easily surprised, maybe you shouldn’t read this. Although if you consider Ki & Ka a suspense thriller, you really need to get out more.

If there’s one thing the new film, starring Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Kapoor, proves, it is that the Bachchans can solve all the problems of the world. Even Ki and Ka’s problems on celluloid. I’ll get to how later.

I didn’t think that Ki & Ka would be a commentary on gender the way it was touted to be. Or that it would be an entertaining take on a man in a woman’s shoes—like Tootsie was. Or a woman in a man’s shoes like the Julie Andrews-starrer Victor Victoria was. This despite Arjun Kapoor trying to convince us otherwise by prancing around in custom-made red patent leather heels on every awards show and TV show he could find his way to, before the release of his film. Every interview of the cast and R. Balki had all three tell us that we’d never seen a man play this role and that Kareena’s character was the perfect career woman as well.

Despite my cynicism, I did hold out some glimmer of hope for what this film may deliver. More fool me. Also, this may have had something to do with Amitabh Bachchan praising the film to high heaven before the release. If I’d known he was starring in it, I wouldn’t have taken his words to heart.

The storyline of the film is that Kareena Kapoor is Kia, a “career woman" who falls in love with and marries Arjun Kapoor who is Kabir and wants to be a home-maker. She is very excited at the thought that her highly educated husband—he’s a topper from IIM Bangalore—has never held down a job and doesn’t want to work a bit and instead sit at home and essentially cook. (Even me, who loves and earns money from cooking, considers this a fate worse than death.) This is revolutionary stuff, I hope you understand. The film is about the duo’s relationship.

So here’s what I learnt about women, men, bad scripting and the Bachchans from Balki.

First, human beings in the world of Balki are quite easy to deal with. Because they have no nuance of character or personality. If they are good, they are very very good. If they are bad, they are horrid. So, Swaroop Sampat who plays Kareena’s mother and runs a number of NGOs, thinks it’s wonderful that her daughter wants to marry a man who will stay at home with both of them and not earn a penny, even though they have a maid to look after the upkeep of the house. What he will do is whip up gourmet meals and make sure mother and daughter are well-fed. Sampat never loses her temper, never questions her daughter about why her seemingly intelligent and very qualified husband doesn’t want to do something other than cook lunch and dinner for them, and doesn’t seem perturbed when they seem to be on the verge of divorce. She is the poster girl for Valium. Similarly, Ka (Arjun Kapoor) never stays angry with Ki (Kareena) even if she says he’s useless and a publicity whore and manipulative. He always understands her angst and moves on. Even when he starts earning money, he offers to do the work for free because you see, he’s a nice sort. He’s the kind of man who would drive any self-respecting woman to go lie down in traffic.

Second, there’s a slight leap of logic because we are never told where Ka’s spending money comes from before marriage. He’s the son of a millionaire builder, the only sane character in the film played by Rajit Kapur, but he starts the film by saying that he doesn’t work with his father and doesn’t want any of his money either. Since he doesn’t work anywhere, I’m assuming that the money he spends in fancy restaurants and flying to different cities is from the pocket money Daddy gives him. This flexibility of ethics isn’t dwelled on or criticised, so sponging off your millionaire parent even at the age of 26 is highly recommended.

Third, if Ki is supposed to be the perfect woman, all us women should hunt down Balki and sit on him. Because Ki is impractical, mercurial, jealous and likes living in what looked like an extremely filthy home. She begrudges her husband his new-found fame as the poster boy for evolved men and stay-at-home husbands, and constantly snipes at him and puts him down. She is borderline psychotic and would drive any sane man to murder or suicide.

Fourth, if Ka is supposed to be the perfect man, I think we should be pleased with the imperfect ones we have in real life. In Ka’s world, there is no spine, anger, ambition, need to earn money or to help increase the family’s nest egg. He is by far the most blah man I have seen on screen.

Fifth, at the end of the day, when your father is a millionaire, you or your wife will work for the family bijness. For all their talk of independence or progressiveness, the film ends with Kia joining sasurji in running his company. So whether the woman wears the pants or the man wears the heels, there’s no difference. Because when you marry into a business family, you will end up working there. So much for a revolutionary change in gender and societal roles.

Sixth, and most important, is why Amitabh Bachchan deserves to be President of India. Because only he and his family can solve not only the problems of India, but also the marital problems of Ki and Ka. Mr and Mrs Bachchan play themselves in the film. And all it takes for Kia to see the light of her jealous and shrewish ways is a little hand-written note from Jaya Bachchan. That’s all. She reads the note, realises the folly of her ways and that an unemployed husband is nothing to frown at. Much like is the case in the Junior Bachchan home. In all honesty, the segment with the Bachchans is the most entertaining and real part of the film. But it lasts for barely 10 minutes, so suffering through two hours of the film isn’t a fair trade-off.

If this is what a gender reversal film is all about, give me a Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo with its mindless and scheming female characters and male saviours any day. Even Salman Khan and Sonam Kapoor’s characters had more of an arc than Ki & Ka’s. All this film convinced me of was what girls have been told through generations: always marry well. If you can’t marry a millionaire, find yourself a millionaire’s unemployed and only male scion, marry him pronto and ensure your father-in-law makes you CEO of the company. Which while it may not be the lesson Balki was hoping to deliver, is a worthy lesson in itself.

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