Ki & Ka is a romantic comedy film written and directed by Indian filmmaker R. Balki. The movie stars Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, and Swaroop Sampat in the pivotal roles. Ki & Ka features cameo appearances from Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan with both of them playing themselves. The film derives its title by splitting the Hindi words for girl and boy: 'lad-ki' and 'lad-ka'. Ki & Ka tells the tale of a modern couple, Kia and Kabir, both of whom don't mind a gender swap with the wife taking up the role of the breadwinner and the husband opting to be a homemaker.
Ki & Ka has all the makings of a typical Bollywood-esque masala entertainer, but, unfortunately, it lacks the flair of a quintessential Balki film. As a matter of fact, it also happens to be the cheesiest film of R. Balki's filmmaking career. Perhaps, commercial failure of Shamitabh forced him to come up with a script that's more viable commercially. Balki nonetheless doesn't back down from taking swipes at modern urban couples, underscoring their fear for taking responsibilities and making commitments while in a relationship. Balki shows us how these couples desperately want to be on the top of their lives. How they perceive marriage as a means to meet their physical needs rather than companionship. How insecurities, egos, apathy, and envy can destroy relationships.
Balki, for a change, tries to keep things simple and it seems to have worked well for him.
Ki & Ka tries to break the gender-related stereotypes prevalent in our society. The movie makes us realize that both men and women are equally responsible for embracing the stereotypes imposed upon them by the society. The movie transcends the gender divide by acknowledging that the tussle between a breadwinner and a homemaker exists regardless of the gender and is often triggered by a lack of understanding: the former inevitably ends up underestimating the importance of the latter in his/her life. Ki & Ka can also be seen an attempt on the part of R. Balki to redefine the established conventions associated with marriage. Balki explains: "Why can't marriage be as cool as romance? Marriage, the way it is defined, makes it a flawed institution. If it is defined as something else, maybe it will make things better. You can't force two people to be bound just because of a legal bond."ause of a legal bond."
Both Kareena and Arjun are superb in their respective roles. Their chemistry is electrifying and the romance looks so natural. Credit goes to Balki and team for their brilliant casting choices. Surely, the movie will give a fillip to Arjun's young acting career (it continues to touch new highs post 'AIB Knockout' infamy) but it remains to be seen whether it can prove to be a second Jab We Met for Kareena and resuscitate her fading career (strangely, Kareena is looking much older here than what she looked in her previous outing Bajrangi Bhaijaan). A story of a Metrosexual Gym Hunk meets Miss Sweet Smell of Success, Ki & Ka is targeted towards Anglophone urban audience and lacks a universal appeal: the issues in focus mostly concern upper/upper middle-class couples.
Overall, Ki & Ka is not a regular rom-com and offers a lot of food for thought to ruminate upon in from of valuable lessons for young, old as well as soon-to-be couples such as emphasizing the importance of giving space to one's partner in a relationship. The movie has its share of flaws, but the execution more or less compensates for it. While the movie's third act appears to be a bit rushed up, the overall pacing appears to be fine. Balki, for a change, tries to keep things simple and it seems to have worked well for him. The cinematic flair seen in Balki's earlier films is definitely missing here but thankfully there is no dearth of entertainment.
A version of this review was first published in A Potpourri of Vestiges.
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