'"Ghar sambhale toh ki, kam kare toh ka, according to Hindustani sabhyata," says house-husband Kabir Bansal (Arjun Kapoor) when asked if his "ambitious" wife, Kia (Kareena Kapoor Khan), is the "man" in their relationship.
Although "Ki and Ka" has an interesting premise and attempts to upend gender stereotypes, it fails at it miserably. What dilutes the script is the film's central characters harping on the same theme, from start to finish. Every few minutes, there are lines reminding viewers that they are witnessing a family role reversal.
While top business-school graduate Kabir isn't interested in the rat race – and believes that homemakers, like his mother was, are nothing short of artists — Kia is a marketing professional, who is fiercely ambitious and wants to rise to the top of the corporate world.
In this household, the wife rushes to work, attends meetings, and returns late to find the husband waiting for her at the dinner table, after he has cleaned the house, cooked the meals and taken care of the grocery shopping.
"Ki and Ka" suffers because the makers try too hard to convince the viewers that the movie is treading uncharted territories. Scenes like Kabir wearing the mangalsutra around his wrist and hobnobbing with apartment aunty-jis and hosting kitty parties feel contrived, and ensure the film is a far cry from its promising trailer.
While the overall set-up may be a welcome departure from the usual fare, it isn't something that's not been seen before. Satyajit Ray's "Mahanagar" (1963) and Vijay Anand's "Guide" (1965) are two gems that come to mind, which were way ahead of their times and broke stereotypes with subtlety.
However, there are endearing moments too, albeit few and far between. There's a certain sense of unselfishness to Kabir, especially in scenes where Kareena touches new highs of glamour and success, and he is happy taking a backseat and letting her enjoy her moments.
Arjun lends sincerity to Kabir but his drooping body language and monotonous dialogue delivery hurt the film's cause. Kareena is her chirpy self and plays the corporate hotshot well, helped along by her bespoke wardrobe. But she tends to over-express in emotional scenes.
Although writer-director R Balki's idea is a novel one, it seems to lose its way between all the mainstream baggage and the quest to deliver a blockbuster. Also after his subtly brilliant "Cheeni Kum" (2007) and "Paa" (2009), we expected Balki to have a more mature and sorted take on a complicated concept like this one.
This movie is best avoided.
International Busines Times India rating: 1.5