Cast: Kareena Kapoor , Arjun Kapoor, Swaroop Sampat ,Amitabh Bachchan , Jaya Bachchan
Director: R Balki
Rating: * * ½
There’s no doubting Balki’s credentials as an ad whiz but to take that dubious underdeveloped treatment savvy all the way to a feature length doesn’t quite make him a filmmaker with cinematic genius.
After dabbling in feature-length brand enhancements of Amitabh Bachchan through hollow but unique enticements like ‘Cheeni Kum,’ ‘Paa’ and ‘Shamitabh’- and just when we thought he might have fresher fish to fry, we get yet another homage to the veteran thespian. This time though it comes in the form of a gender bender.
‘Ki & Ka’ is basically a film masquerading as a fresh salvo fired in favor of female emancipation (and conversely male feminization) which eventually though, shows itself to be merely a mask for Balki’s deeper purpose- that of paying tribute to the Amitabh-Jaya starring, velvet toned, career tripper, ‘Abhimaan.’ Needless to say neither purpose is served up well enough to bear fruit.
While the concept of a role reversal between a Ki & Ka is quite interesting, the contrived and slap-dash manner in which it has been obtained makes the experience quite banal and implausible to boot. Kia (Kareena Kapoor Khan) is an independent minded, hard working career woman striving to go places with her marketing career. On a flight back to Delhi, she is seated beside a whimpering male, Kabir (Arjun Kapoor) son of real estate magnate Bansal (Rajit Kapur), who is missing his dear departed homemaker mother so badly that he bursts into tears midflight. Of course, this could well have been a set-up on his part meant to capture the attention of a beautiful woman. But Balki pursues that angle only in the end-play, as a ploy to milk the issue for far-fetched and contrarily cultivated drama.
Ki is quite amused by Ka’s interest and plays along for the uniqueness of it. Ka describes himself as a career homemaker who has given up his father’s riches and expectations in order to pursue a career that dignified his mother’s life. Subsequently they fall in love and marry. Ka moves into his sasural and takes over the entire gamut of homemaking while Ki sticks to her predicative destiny of taking giant strides in terms of career ambition. Small hiccups plague them along the way and a financial crisis that crops up proves that Ka’s resourcefulness and varied skill sets can be monetized too. But Ki is given to envy and Ka prefers to give in rather than rock the boat. Familiar? Well, it’s the story of almost every husband-wife relationship in India except that in the film it’s the man that experiences the homemaker’s angst while the female bears with the stress and expectation of being the sole bread winner. To that extent this film is an eye-opener. So kudos to Balki for making that kind of role reversal fairly appropriable.
Unfortunately that’s purely a facile rendering because Balki never delves deep into the real reasons why his characters chose to go against stereotype. Lip service is paid but the explanations thereof don’t carry any weight. The developments are entirely contrived and alien. There’s hardly anything organic here. The chemistry between Kareena and Arjun, though amiable, doesn’t quite have the power to make us believe in their togetherness. Montage shots might make good sense in an advertisement but they don’t quite help develop flesh and blood characters. Both Ki and Ka appear to have been pre-programmed to act and respond in a particular way and it’s pretty much obvious. Swaroop Sampat returns to the big screen as Kia’s widowed mother and she lends the film some lightness of being. Kareena and Arjun do well to put across Balki’s intent but the characters they play are pretty much hollow and caricaturist. The surfeit of in film product placements make it doubly clear that this film is merely a brand enhancement vehicle and not a cinema worthy of a genuine fan following. And with Amitabh and Jaya hogging the frame in the dying moments you get the feeling that the real objective of this movie was to give Balki’s grand obsession (Amitabh Bachchan I mean) another shot in the arm.