This is not a ‘film film’, it’s an ad film, a two-hour-plus ad-op to pop plenty of product endorsements. Recoil then, here’s much brouhaha about a brand of cooking oil. And in case, your tum-tum is about to burn n’ boil, a certain hospital is recommended. Moreover, do dig those chalo-Dubai touristy vistas going gaga about shopping at the D-malls. Howlariously, too, a hotel’s fountain discharges great gusts of water skywards. Alas, the effect is more tacky than sexy.
Woe betide, R Balki’s Ki & Ka is also an ad film about how to make a total goulash out of the ageless subject of gender politics. The Ka out here wants to wear the mangalsutra, leapfrogs through horrifying footage (both for himself and us) showing his wife try out a pregnancy kit, and keeps breaking into a fit. What a nitwit.
As for the Ki, gee! She downs booze as if she were a modern-day Lady Devdas, changes boyfriends (mercifully off-screen) faster than her eye shadows.
More: as a corporate marketing executive, she asserts that cooking oil should be sold only to male customers. Oink? That’s a dumb one. Yet her boss crows, “Brilliant, brilliant!” Caw baat hai, really.
Truly, Balki appears to reside in a la-la land where anything can transpire. So perspire along, with his oddball hero who wears the apron at home and a woman who parachutes into pants to go out on everyday work. Any smidgen of seriousness isn’t to be expected from the director. Not even remotely. For a woman-at-workplace story, Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar remains the touchstone. As for the gender gup-shup, just stick to a slew of Hollywood comedies dealing with the subject or the Australian TV series Househusbands.
Anyway, who cares about originality nowadaze, no? And who cares if you empathise – or not – with any of the characters on window display here? To be honest, you care a fig about the perils afflicting Kia (Kareena Kapoor Khan) and Kabir (Arjun Kapoor). As prosperous as any princess and princeling, they’re the sort who can buy themselves out of any crisis.
In the event, the screenplay’s devoid of dramatic crisis, plausibility and tension, except of the strictly immature kind. Reportedly, she’s 33 and currently footloose, he’s 30 and direly screw-loose. How they gurgle, cooey cooey, wed, rush to bed and liplock as if they were making up for lost time. So far, so much smooch ado about nothing. The plot’s just not m…m…m…moving.
At long last, comes a teeny-weeny twisteroo. Ka, thanks to his diet cuisine skills and talent for coaxing plump ladies to gym, becomes a mega-media star. He’s on magazine covers, TV debates, and what-nought.
Ergo, Ki is possessed by pangs of jealousy, a la A Star is Born, Aashiqui 2 and don’t you dare forget Abhimaan. Yeah, cue now to pull out Mr and Mrs Bachchan like magicians pull out rabbits from a hat. Jayaji approves of what she sees of the doodh Ka dhula dude on TV. States she with a feudal lord’s impunity, “I want to meet this boy!” Banda haazir ho! Instantly, Ka’s in the Bachchan durbar, which is about the only tangy scene in the entire picture. The digs taken by Mrs B against Mr B, are as pungent as red chillies.
Suffice it to say, as soon as Balki’s usual servile genuflection to the Bachchans winds up, so does the screenplay. Quarrels, misunderstandings and recriminations ensue leading to a resolution, which as one of the song’s lyrics put it, is ,“Foolishq ishq tera mera…foolishq foolishq tedha medha.”
If any point is made towards a progressive outlook or condemning male chauvinism, it’s clearly lost in transit. In fact, blame this largely on the unlikeable characterisations. If Ka uses an environment friendly thingamajig for transport, nurses a fetish for trains (ooof, this is exaggerated to the nth degree) and continues to consider his late mother as ‘an artist’ for minding the home and hearth, these elements are more diabetically cute than convincing. By comparison, at least Ki shows some signs of life, by losing her cool. Only, she makes such a habit about it that it eventually gets on your nerves.
Kareena Kapoor Khan is watchable, but that’s about it. Arjun Kapoor impersonates a bored robot throughout. Of the supporting ensemble, Swaroop Sampat breezes in and out whenever the goings-on become excessively claustrophobic. Thank you, Ms Sampat.
Technically, the cinematography is pleasant during the outdoor scenes, especially the vignettes located in New Delhi’s National Rail Museum. About the screenplay, dialogue and mise en scene, the less bemoaned the better.
Unsolicited advice: Opt for a gourmet meal at home. And it doesn’t matter if the cook, cook-ni or yourself have to head to the kitchen.