The streeling is pulling Arjun Kapoor into the kitchen.And Kareena Kapoor doesn’t mind as long he is fully functional in the bedroom. That, dear audience, in a nutshell is Ki & Ka. A film about role reversal between the sexes where the ambitious wife Kiya (Kareena) goes out to earn the bread and butter, while the husband Kabir (Arjun) is blissfully happy looking after the home.
Immediately,there is an infectious charm to the proceedings. Every scene is a joy to behold. It could have something to do with Kareena Kapoor’s presence. She lights up every frame as only she can. And then when you have the cinematographic genius P C Sreeram manning the lenses even Arjun Kapoor looks so radiant, you want to ask this couple….where do they generate so much sunshine in their souls?
Most films about married couples in Bollywood are paeans of pain. Well, surprise surprise! A marriage need not be a melody of misery, provided the couple does what it wants to without caring about how they would look to the world.
So when Kabir meets Kia on a flight , they hit it off instantly.The words that flow between the cool Kabir and the hot Kiya are so conversational I wondered if Arjun and Kareena thought of the dialogues as they played out their characters’ combined karma. The dialogues are never florid or bombastic. Every character, even in those very engaging boardroom meeting in Kareena/Kiya’s workplace, are so lived-in ,they are worthy of being illustrative of how couples should converse in our films from now till the time when rom-coms are made in Bollywood.
The incidental character even a random staggler like the guy who shushes the couples in the hospital is memorable. And I fell in love with Kiya’s maid who saunters in at noon, puts on her employer’s TV, plonks herself on the sofa and phones her boyfriend to come over for some fun.
Seriously, I want to see an entire film on her life.
For now, there is Balki and his take on how to playfully dodge gender stereotyping in a country where even words have a gender. Given the unbelievable patriarchal prejudices it takes guts for a man like Kabir to tell his father to shove his wealth up his you-know-what, as he, Kabir wants to be an housekeeper like his mother. It takes even more guts for an actor to play a man who is happy cooking, cleaning and living off his wife’s income.
Arjun Kapoor makes the character’s unconventional, some would say downright embarrassing aspirations seem so normal, you wonder why more husbands don’t adopt the you-go-I-stay route. This is by far Arjun’s most accomplished performance. The joy he exudes in house-keeping chores is almost contagious. The hurt he conveys is palpable when his wife begins to resent his growing popularity (Abhimaan in reverse) as the face of the metrosexual kindered man very happily, very heterosexually in touch with the feminine side of his personality.
Perhaps it is the company that Arjun keeps. Kareena Kapoor Khan’s dazzling beauty (I am afraid there is no other way to describe it) plus her ability to communicate her character’s frantic ambitions without making her seem like a man in skirts, makes Balki’s job a lot easier. How wrong can you go when you have so much beauty grace and talent at your disposal?
Not that Balki is in the mood to get lazy with his charming couple’s ability to make the frames look fabulous even when they are dressed in their night clothes or perched on the potty. To make a film where the couple is submerged under no marital stress (Kareena’s easygoing mother, played by the long-missing Swaroop Sampat, is the antithesis of Jaya Bhaduri’s meddlesome mom, Achala Sachdev in Kora Kagaz who wrecks havoc on her daughter’s marriage) is not as easy as it sounds.
This genial film about two young free-spirited people who assume non-traditional roles and then live happily ever after (almost) is powered by terrific directorial treatment. Freed of flamboyant and florid flourishes the free-flowing narrative sweeps you into its arms with its understated charm.
Much of non-dramatic scenes are played pitch-perfectly because of the writing and the two actors. Before too long you begin to care for Kabir and Kiya the way you would for a couple in the neighbourhood that doesn’t quite fit in. The lengthy sequence where she is traumatized by a suspected pregnancy winds its way through a series of finely cut shots (Chandan Arora’s editing keeps the proceeding snappy but gives the couple space to express their feelings comfortably) adding up to a sequence that’s savagely real and funny and somehow, slightly sad too.
These are scenes from a marriage that will outlast temporary setbacks.
The crisis point in Kiya and Kabir’s winsome togetherness is reached in a tongue-in-cheek homage to Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Abhimaan. Kiya’s outburst accusing Arjun of being a scheming manipulator makes her look awfully unfair and rather paranoid. Wives, we know,are capable of such temporary lapses of reason.
The crisis, you feel, is brought on because every film needs one. Ironically the climactic crisis in the couple’s marriage is precipitated by Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan who make a very agreeable joint appearance. The best dialogue of the film is given to Mrs Bachchan who tells her superstar husband, “If I had continued my career and if you had agreed to look after our home I would have been the one waving to fans outside.”
The film begins with Arjun Kapoor sobbing on a flight and ends with Kareena Kapoor sobbing on another flight.
They are welcome to their drama. We came away smiling from this affable drama that proves a happy marriage is not a myth.