No Man’s Land
Film: Ki & Ka
Cast: Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Swaroop Sampat
Directed by: R. Balki
Duration: 2 hrs 6 mins
Rating: * *
Ad-man turned filmmaker R.Balki’s first couple of films (Cheeni Kum and Paa) had some charm but Shamitabh was nowhere close to hitting bull’s eye. With Ki & Ka he tries way too hard to make a point which has already been made. As a one line brief, the story of a man who looks after the household while the woman pursues her professional career, may be interesting but the screenplay just doesn’t have the chutzpah to pull it off. The result? Ki & Ka turns out to be a laborious watch.
Balki’s heart is in the right place – he wants to make a point about gender equality by reversing the traditional roles of the man and the woman. If women can stay at home and become a housewife, why can’t a man do that? Point taken, but the effort in making that point is so protracted that the film fails to enthuse you.
Kia (Kareena Kapoor) a successful marketing manager meets Kabir (Arjun Kapoor) during a flight where he is sobbing while remembering his mom. He is 30, she is 33 and while he is currently unemployed, his father is a rich builder. His mother was an ‘artist’ he tells her – she took good care of their home. After a few rendezvous where they gulp down gallons of booze and discuss this man-woman gender politics at length, they decide to get hitched. Rich papa objects because the son is a good for nothing and how shameful it will be for his khandaan if the man lives off his wife’s money. After the arduous lecture she realises her to-be husband is a real mard.
During the marriage registration he even wears a mangalsutra as your patience begins to wear thin with the proceedings.
Good old Swaroop Sampat plays Kia’s mother. While Ka takes care of their house hold chores, Ki steadily climbs the corporate ladder. She even comes up with a novel marketing campaign where cooking oil will be sold at a hefty discount, if it is bought by men.
In another unconvincing sequence, he becomes a motivational speaker by convincing plump ladies to hit the gym. Next thing you know, he is a star featuring in television debates and magazines. For no obvious reason, jealousy strikes and Ki is not too pleased with him getting all the attention. After the manufactured conflict is resolved, you presume they lived ever after, not sure if happily.
The problem with the screenplay is that it assumes that it is breaking new ground making a point that has not been made before. A working woman’s story has been told most remarkably in Ray’s Mahanagar (1963) and jealousy has been dealt with in Abhimaan and more recently in Aashiqui 2.
Many of the scenes are cringe worthy – like the pregnancy kit test or the Dubai trip which was pretty much pointless as well. The only bright spark is Mr and Mrs Bachchan in cameo and they effortlessly make the point in two minutes what the film struggles to do in two hours.
Another Delightful Pandamonium
Film: Kung Fu Panda 3
Voices of: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Bryan Cranston
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni
Duration: 1 hr 35 mins
Rating: * * * 1 / 2
The characters and the basic premise of the Kung Fu Panda are so affable that it is tough not to like anything that they do. During a time when sequels are more of miss than a hit, Kung Fu Panda delivers the goods, as it has in the previous installment as well.
Perhaps no other animation hero in recent times has been as likable as this dumpling guzzling cuddly Panda. Along with his friends he has been the savior more than once but he continues to remain the underdog, every time.
The script doesn’t take the audience for granted and strives at gags to keep the audience interested.
Master Oogway the equivalent of Yoda in Star Wars, fights the evil lord Kai (voice of JK Simmons) who once was on his side. Kai wins the battle and is determined to go all out. He is told that the one who can stop him is the Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black).
Meanwhile Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) decides to pass on the mantle to Po as the instructor to his friends – Tigress (Angelina Jolie Pitt), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Crane (David Cross) and Viper (Lucy Liu). Po is all at sea on his new endeavor and the other development that takes place is his biological dad Li (Bryan Cranston) shows up. The father convinces the son to return with him where his species resides and also promises to teach him how to master his Chi. Po has a whale of a time connecting with other Pandas’ but the dangerous Kai is just around the corner.
There are enough new characters to create some novelty while old ones are also around to entertain. The film never takes itself too seriously and even occasionally when it does, humor is just around the corner. Po is the equivalent of the Inspector Jacques Clouseau – bumbling but effective.
For a change, the 3D animation works and this film is worthy of watching it that format. It is also one of those films where the voice over stands out – whether it is Jack Black as Po or JK Whiplash’ Simmons as Kai or even Jackie Chan as the monkey – they all make an impact.
Surely it must have also crossed the film maker’s minds that there is some strong foundation has been laid for the back stories in the form of prequels. We’ll be happy to see more of Po and his friends.