By Rohini Banerjee:
Gender Roles – that’s something commercial Hindi films (especially those that are ‘love stories’) often reinforce. There are stereotypes, ridiculous cliches, and harmful tropes that are often passed off as ‘romantic’. But R. Balki’s latest; titled ‘Ki And Ka’ seeks to challenge this, and judging by the trailer, it does seem like a start of an important conversation about gender roles.
In the trailer, we see the heroine (played by Kareena Kapoor) as a working woman who’s extremely focused on her career, and her goals include excelling professionally and climbing up the ranks to become the company’s CEO. The hero, played by Arjun Kapoor, is a domesticated one. He wants to stay home and take care of household duties – and asserts, quite vehemently, that this doesn’t make him ‘gay’, that he is very much attracted to women, but just wants to remain within the domestic sphere. In fact, in one scene from the trailer, Kareena Kapoor’s character says ‘he doesn’t want to be my husband, he wants to be my wife’. The point is driven home further when she puts a mangalsutra around his neck.
Now, this concept – of a career-driven woman but a domestic-driven man coming together sounds exciting on paper. Revolutionary even (for a mainstream Bollywood movie). But is ‘Ki And Ka’ really that? There are multiple scenes in the trailer where the people around him continuously tell the male protagonist to find a proper job, that living on a woman’s income is something debilitating.
What is it about stay-at-home husbands that society still cannot fathom? While the hero in ‘Ki And Ka’ seems content being the house husband (which is what should be the case!), the way society perceives him exposes deep-seated patriarchal conditioning.
Here’s hoping that the film challenges such patriarchal notions, gender norms, and negative perceptions about stay at home men!