Film: Ki & Ka

Stars: Arjun Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor

Director: R. Balki

Stars: 2.5 out of 5

Ki & Ka, the romantic comedy that claims to explore gender roles in a marriage, comes across as a concept that will give director R. Balki a chance to change the world — one good film, at a time.

But sadly, the interesting premise is reduced to a banal Bollywood romance whose messages on gender equality and stereotypes attached to men and women are lost in translation.

Kareena Kapoor, plays Kia — a motivated marketing professional who aspires to conquer the corporate world — while Arjun Kapoor plays Kabir Bhansal, the heir to his father’s lucrative construction business, whose ambition is to be like his mother, a housewife. The first half of the film is spent on their swift courtship and their unconventional marriage, where he would be the house-husband.

Although Kareena and Arjun are accomplished actors, it takes them a bit of time to warm up to each other. Their flirtatious banter — something on the conversational lines of the Before Sunset, Before Sunrise and Before Midnight trilogy starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy — comes across as contrived. Having said that, it is mildly entertaining to watch them set up a home and play house.

Quirky touches such as Kabir’s obsession with trains and how he manages to set up their home with train memorabilia on the walls and in their bedroom don’t add to the story. Is it director Balki’s way of establishing that Kabir is a man-child?

Even if we buy into his story that a rich boy, who also happens to be a topper from one of India’s top colleges, would want to cook, clean and support his wife, was there a need to show him hobnobbing with all those annoying neighbours who have kitty-parties every week?

The scene in which Kapoor was hosting a lunch for the other housewives in his hood was taking things a bit far. They just stopped short of knitting sweaters together.

What’s also disappointing is the way Kareena’s character develops. As feared, the “ambitious woman”, which tends to have negative undertones when attached to career woman, turns into a shrill, insecure banshee.

Without giving the story away, she certainly doesn’t come out smelling like roses after any of her fights with Kabir. At best, she’s just a spoilt child, who is in desperate need of some disciplining. Why would a woman who has a stand-up husband, who supports and dotes on her unconditionally, be plagued by pettiness? The answers continue to elude us even after the film ends.

Kareena is engaging to watch, while Arjun does his best to make Kabir endearing. He is good, but we wish these two were given a stronger script to wrestle with.

The cameo from Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan is fun to watch, but they doesn’t have the collective power to elevate this average film into a spectacular one. Just like a marriage that has seen better days, this film was potent with promise but doesn’t cash in on its potential.

Reserve this for a one-time watch.