A prominent figure in contemporary Indian cinema, R Balki is the man behind unconventional and heartwarming films like Cheeni Kum and Paa. The filmmaker and screenwriter who comes from an advertising background has an exceptional sense of humor and an obsession with trains, both of which are visible in his upcoming film Ki and Ka. The film that interchanges the roles between a husband and wife has a unique pairing of Arjun Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan and shows both the actors in a different light. Here are excerpts from a conversation with R Balki.

R Balki

R Balki

How did the idea of the movie and its name come into being?

The name was decided after I wrote the story. The title was fundamentally used because after writing the story I realized what the problem is. The problem is that Hindi is the only language that has a gender for everything from a bus to a car; everything has its feminine and masculine. It is very funny because in Hindi when you say ‘Naukri ke liye jati hai’, in which Naukri is actually feminine and ‘Khana banaya jata hai’, in which Khana is actually masculine. But they are opposite concepts in real life. So, this ‘Ki’ and ‘Ka’ is a very fascinating thing in the Hindi language.


What would you say is the central theme of the film?

The film is not a story about somebody being a house husband. The film is about how we as human beings typecast people if they decide to interchange roles. When roles are interchanged, are the problems any different or would the love be any different? No, that is not the case. The problems and love doesn’t change. The great thing is not about a man becoming a housewife or a woman becoming a corporate person. This is about two people who decide to fall in love and get married and do different things. Most movies would end once the couple is married, but what happens after that and how do you handle the issues with the roles that you have defined for yourself, is what Ki and Ka is all about.

Arjun Kapoor has a very masculine look, was that the reason that you chose him for this role?

That is exactly the reason why I chose him! I had seen him before, but when I called him for a meeting, he looked even bigger than I remember. People tend to generalize and for someone who is so obviously masculine, people only see them as being masculine and nothing else. That is the same reason why Kareena works because she is one of the most feminine people, even if she is portraying an aggressive and ambitious personality. In the corporate world there is a set perception that if a woman is ambitious then she is more masculine. Similarly, if a man is kind then he is said to be more feminine, so there are such biases. Hence, I wanted to put two people who are extremely masculine and feminine in such opposite roles. Plus, Arjun Kapoor brought an element of gentleness to the film.


(L_R) Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor and R Balki at the trailer launch of Ki and Ka

(L_R) Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor and R Balki at the trailer launch of Ki and Ka

Was Kareena your first choice for the role?

It was actually a choice that happened. Word got out that I had cast Arjun Kapoor. People then started sending pictures of Arjun and Kareena to my wife’s Twitter handle. Initially, I didn’t even see the images and just laughed it off. But one day, the page was lying open and I just looked at it and everything fell in place. It was not because they looked great together, but it solved a lot of issues in my head. When you see the film, you’ll know what I mean. So I spoke to Kareena and she agreed to do the film.


Were you a little apprehensive about get any negative reactions regarding the subject of the film?

As long as there are people it will be taken positively, if there are some other specimens, I don’t know (smiles). Human beings will take this movie well. We have the highest no-sense-of-humor levels in our society. But I think that it’s slightly improving. This film is a light, fun film and is not preachy at all.

Would you say that it was brave for both Arjun and Kareena to take up such different roles?

You are brave only if you are scared; you are not brave if you are sure of what you are doing. Arjun completely realized the contrast between his physical built and the personality of his character and how it could work very well. He never went about trying to be like a woman and simply did things like a man would do. That worked because he never for once played a woman. Nor did Kareena do anything to behave like a man; she just went about being herself. That is ultimately what the movie is about.

Transcribed by Aarti Sukhija