Tuesday, 16 February 2016

A Very Humble Take On The Trailer Of 'Ki and Ka'

A lot has been said about the new "Ki and Ka" trailer already. It is after all an R Balki film, and he has impressed me with every one of his films, be it the much loved "English Vinglish", or the much lesser appreciated "Shamitabh". And, every publication out there is going gaga over the 'gender bending' fun ride that the trailer of "Ki and Ka" seems to be. But, I am having niggling doubts. Yesterday, my flatmate said that she believes feminists would really love this film. The immediate question that popped up in my head was, "Would an Intersectional feminist love this film though?"

You can watch the trailer here and leave your thoughts for me to ponder upon.

I have learnt that there is a vast divide between feminists of different kind; all don't wear the same feathers. Different people have different agendas in mind when they champion any -ism, as history is there to prove it. The thing is, feminism, a.k.a. gender equality as the lesser of the brave-hearts call it, has now become a jhanda that everyone loves to fly. It is truly a double-edged sword now. On one hand, capitalism is selling the idea of equality in the name of bringing about change. Feminism has now become a viable, saleable commodity now. Well, if it brings about a change for the better, then good for everyone. But is it really being achieved when so many people involved in this selling don't even know that feminism is not about male hating after all? Now, that is a topic that deserves much deeper thought and I need more time to delve into it. I am just trying to analyse the trailer of a film that is trying to tell me that revolutionary change is finally happening in Bollywood where gender bending and gender equality can slowly, but firmly, become a norm, rather than a mere breeze that will be forgotten tomorrow. I mean, this film is being anticipated as a potential game changer for Bollywood; that is big!
I am repeating to myself constantly that this is R Balki after all, and that man deserves more faith. But, I cannot shove off the niggling fear in the back of my mind that they (as in big bad world of Bollywood) will screw it up, yet again. First of all, while watching the trailer, things went downhill for me when Arjun Kapoor's character announces he is neither gay, nor looking for a sex change despite the fact that he wants to be a stay-at-home husband. Isn't this statement making it clear that even if now men can stay at home and not want a career, but they must remain affirmatively, heterosexually cis. Then again at the end, he is shown he is beating up a bunch of goons, establishing his normative 'manliness' even more firmly. Even Kareena's character gushes and states, that this display of machismo is making her feel things that she perhaps didn't feel for Arjun's character before when he was doing the more stereotypical 'womanly things' at home.

Is it really gender bending to wear heels, cook, and be a 'house husband', while you pointedly distance yourself from 'those gays and transgenders' for whom it is okay to be feminine, and quite expectedly so? Are you really telling a revolutionary story by simplistically reversing the stereotype that the man always pays the bills, and the wife always depends on the husband for money ghar chalane ke liye?

Is it really gender bending that the career-oriented woman is being attributed the role of the 'man of the house', and the stay-at-home husband wants to be 'the wife' and wear a mangalsutra? How is assigning gender to everyday activities, like cooking and giving long hours to your job, earth shattering or gender bending?

Intersectionality is a real necessity in our society. We can no longer fight for one oppressed section at the cost of another one. We can no longer win cool brownie points by distancing ourselves from other marginalised sections while championing the rights of another.

When I commented a much more condensed version of these very doubts on a Buzzfeed article about the trailer, someone pointed out to me that we have to assume these mindless gags are only there to attract the larger audience, and we better keep our hopes up till the film actually releases. So, till the film releases, I am also keeping my hopes up. Make me happy one more time Balki saab!

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  1. Love the post.. such profound thoughts.
    how have u been?


    1. I have been up to so much in hi Delhi could write a book on it.