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Ki & Ka Will Start A Good Conversation

Ki & Ka Will Start A Good Conversation
Arjun Kapoor speaks to Team Box Office India about his upcoming film Ki & Ka.

Box Office India (BOI): So Arjun, 14 months…
Arjun Kapoor (AK): ‘A 14 month-sabbatical’… according to Indian cinema and Hindustan ki sabhyata, if an actor doesn’t work for 14 months, there must be something wrong with him… ‘defective piece hoga’. Anyway, it has been 14 months but it doesn’t feel like it. It feels right, because I felt saturated, as an actor. In one calendar year, I had Gunday, 2 States, Finding Fanny and Tevar, so that took a toll. I promoted four films, so imagine how bored people must have been, constantly seeing me!
I think it was the right time for me to take a break. I had decided to take care of some major health issues I was facing but since Tevar didn’t work, people thought I had taken a sabbatical. The fact is, I suffered a lot of injuries during Tevar, so I was taking care of those. Balki sir offered me this film and we shot it in 40 days. We finished in October and we felt the release date needed to be during the summer holidays, when we could get a lot more families to watch it because all of us believe it is a not a niche film. It is not only for multiplexes; it is a universal concept. The release date happened to be April but it could also have been January.

BOI: What was your reaction when Balki sir told you that you had to play a house husband?
AK: ‘Accha sir, kitne baaje aana hai shooting ko, batao,’ that’s all I said. Because he had called me and offered me another script, which I heard, and I told him, ‘Sir, this seems interesting. Whenever you develop it fully, let me know.’ Then he said there was another idea he wanted to do later and that I should listen to it. That’s how he pitched the idea (of Ki & Ka).

BOI: This was over the phone?
AK: No, we were in his office. Shamitabh had not done well, Tevar had not done well, so we were two depressed people trying to figure out what we had done. Shamitabh had released in February and this was in March or April. We were talking and he said, ‘Every boy grows up and wants to be like his father, but what if you met a boy who wanted to be like his mother?’ I wanted to meet this boy because he sounded unique. So I said I would love to hear more. When a character awakes the viewer in you, you know you should do the film. I didn’t think about the fact that I was experimenting or taking a risk. The excitement was so fresh and he (Balki) is a very trustworthy director, so I knew he wouldn’t trivialise it. He was going to explore why the boy was the way he was, and that’s exactly what the film does.

BOI: But most husbands become house husbands, every Sunday!
AK: How would I know? I’m not married. You tell me, Vajir (Singh), do you make breakfast in the morning? I don’t even know how to cook, so I don’t know what I would be like as a house husband. I think I would have to learn to do laundry… But I think, yes, every man has that quality. 

Sometimes, you get so caught up in your life and work that you don’t make the effort, and if you do, you are not willing to tell the world about it. You’re not proud of it. It is almost a, ‘Let’s keep it between us that I sometimes do house work’ kind of thing. Why should you not flaunt it? Your husband is just appreciating what you do all week by making you a cup of tea in the morning. What’s the big deal? I think there are people who are talking about these things, it’s just that thoda time lagta hai change aane mein.

BOI: In the movie, how does Kareena Kapoor Khan’s character react when your character tells her that he wants to be a house husband?
AK: She is shocked, like anybody would be. For a while, she thinks he is joking, but she gradually begins to understand where he is coming from. She understands why he is the way he is and loves him for it. She always thought a man would curb her ambitions, which is what happens to a lot of women. That’s also the reason women now get married later, so that they can work for a few more years before they settle down, make a home and have babies. So Kareena’s character realises she has found the right guy, someone who won’t prevent her from advancing her career. She laughs, she is hesitant, but eventually she loves him because of who he is. And she becomes even more successful after marrying him. She has no pressures of housekeeping and, by the end of the film, becomes the president of the company.

BOI: This will be the first R Balki film that doesn’t feature Amitabh Bachchan as the lead character. Did that thought ever cross your mind?
AK: Amit sir is in the film but he is not playing the lead. I think that’s purely down to the film’s material and it’s nice to know that the director is constantly evolving and wants to work with 
several other people too. Knowing Balki sir, I am sure they will be back together in his next. This was a younger film. But the way Balki sir has included Mr and Mrs Bachchan (Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan) into the movie is phenomenal. It’s in the pre-climax, but it will bring the house down. It was just a one-day shoot but we had so much fun. They play themselves in the move and it is hilarious. It really showcases them as a unit. They are superb together. One scene is enough for that combination to work.

BOI: How did you react when Balki told you about the title Ki & Ka?
AK: I said to him, ‘How will I explain it to people?’ He said, ‘Don’t explain it; the film will explain it all.’ I asked him why we couldn’t say ‘Ladki & Ladka’, but he said, ‘No, it will be Ki & Ka because in Hindi there is always the striling-puling issue. To be honest, I was not very sure how we would play it. Today, looking at it creatively and at how the trailers, posters, songs and concept have all worked out, I think the meaning of thetitle has got through to the audience. It is unique and quirky, just like his films are.

BOI: Do you think that, being from a producer family yourself, you are able to empathise better with producers?
AK: If we don’t empathise with producers, who will? They are the most hated people and they make the least money. In fact, they often don’t make any money! Hum actors itna chik-chik karte hain, we want this much and we want our own staff, our hair and make-up people. No one ever thinks of the producer. We tend to think, producer toh studio ko bech ke kama lega na. The producer will make money only if you make a good film, if the actors arrive on the sets on time, if everything gets done on time and in the given budget, and once the film is successful.

It is very difficult to earn money from a film today as the audience doesn’t appreciate average stuff because they can watch those films on TV, four weeks later. Now you have to be among the best, otherwise you are irrelevant. That’s why I am empathetic towards producers. I believe no producer of mine should lose money. That’s very important to me. In fact that’s very important for the profession itself. Tevar is my only film where the producer lost money, and unfortunately it was my own father. If you look at all the earnings and auxiliary rights, the film’s entire recovery was around 50 crore. For a young actor to achieve 50 crore, we should have all been happy. But because the film cost 65 crore, we didn’t make money. That is the only time I was disappointed in myself. Every other film made money. Aurangzeb might not have done well, but Yash Raj didn’t lose any money, In Finding Fanny, the producer made money. So I have never had any major losses except Tevar. And I always think like that.

We also made Ki & Ka on a fixed budget. I was very alert as some films cannot take the load of 30-40 crore. You have to budget it correctly. Our budget was very precise. I don’t know if it is fair to give out the numbers right now but I am sure that Eros International will release the actual numbers because we want the world to know that we made the film on a sensible budget. And 50 per cent of the recovery is almost done. Plus we sold our music separately (to T-Series). Also, the film was made in 45 days, on time, without any stress. So it automatically has a better chance of success even if it racks up only moderate numbers at the box office. For me, that balance is important. It is not about making 100 crore. Profit hona chahiye, uske baad film ki kismet. I hate for a 
producer to ever lose money.

BOI: Now we know why Balki sir wanted you to play the male protagonist. But why did he want Kareena to play the female protagonist?
AK: Because he wanted someone who is all-woman. He didn’t want her to come across as main mard ki duniya mein ghoom rahi hoon. She is proud to be a woman and that is what he wanted to show.

BOI: What do you think will happen on April 1?
AK: I think people are going to laugh all the way to cinemas because it is also April Fools’ Day. We have made a very sweet film, a genuine, romantic comedy. All this talk of gender is an extension of the romance. After a very long time, you will see marriage being considered ‘cool’. In Hindi cinema, marriage is always the last scene. After that, they show poori barbadi chalu ho gayi, which is not the case. I know relationships are tricky but marriage can be fun. This film will help you rediscover the fun in marriage. You will smile and laugh and genuinely love watching it with your family. It is also a film you should see with your partner, because everybody will get something out of it. I hope 
people watch Ki & Ka because I am proud of the film. 
Box Office India

Box Office India

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