There's a scene in the trailer of R Balki's next film Ki and Ka that waters down the progressive gender representation that this film attempts to show.
In the scene, Arjun Kapoor — who plays a house husband to Kareena Kapoor, an ambitious marketing manager — quotes a headache to get out of some sexytime with his wife. Kareena's response? 'Bhaad mein jaye tera head (to hell with your headache)' and then she proceeds to climb on top of him.
This is when you realise that Ki and Ka is a love story about a couple who are supposedly different. Up until this point in the trailer, you are intrigued at this gender role reversal, and more so, at both the characters' ease at which they essay those roles.
Arjun Kapoor's character is completely fine being a house husband and isn't a product of unfortunate circumstances. Kareena's character is a naturally ambitious person, and her long hours and hectic professional life isn't given a gender spin.
So far, so good. Infact both of them seem genuinely attracted to one another despite their odd pairing.
However (much like most Bollywood films) this promotion of gender role reversal becomes a tad too dramatic very soon. When the two get married, Kareena ties a mangalsutra on Arjun's neck. After a hard day of work, Arjun takes the shoes off Kareena's feet and makes her food. In a dance number, Kareena holds onto Arjun's (ample) bottom while he wears red heels.
Ever heard of gender neutrality, guys? While we get the intention of Balki's passion project Ki and Ka, and the fact that their heart is in the right place (this is best expressed through the film's tagline: 'streeling, puling, same thing') what the film ends up doing is merely shifting stereotypical gender roles onto one another.
It's like someone told the writers, "make the girl a boy, and a boy a girl, but make it very very stereotypical."
Someone tell these guys that a working wife and a house husband aren't polar opposites anymore. This is 2016; a progressive woman doesn't have to be over-sexed, over-ambitious and manly, just as a house husband doesn't have to homely, a good cook and ambition-less.
This is such a pity, because apart from this cringeworthy portrayal of gender (even through it's a subversion), Ki and Ka looks interesting and to their credit, Arjun Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor are charming on screen.
Ki and Ka released on April 1. Watch the trailer here.