I already posted a spoiler-y review and a non-spoiler review, but just in case you left before it ended, or arrived late, or went to the bathroom in the middle and think you missed a scene, here is the whole thing described as best I can remember. Or, you know, you can skip watching it entirely and just read this. But frankly, the movie was disappointing enough I would recommend neither reading nor watching, if you can manage it.
We open, with Yo Yo and “High Heels”. There is a crowd at a fancy wedding, all dancing to it, including a very happy looking bride and groom. The bride jumps off the dance floor to grab Kareena who is standing to the side looking at her phone. Kareena looks shy and uncomfortable on the dance floor, in most other movies she would suddenly get comfortable and drop into the opening song number, but not in this case. Instead, she makes an excuse and runs off the dance floor. Other guests keep inviting her to dance, ranging from a nice paternal couple to a handsome young man, and she keeps smiling but shaking her head “no.” A friend who saw the movie described the way Kareena plays this bit as “wistful”, and that’s kind of perfect. I was drawn in immediately, it felt like a character who maybe wanted to dance, to enjoy, to flirt and fall in love, but knew she could never have it, and was handling her disappointment in a mature and considerate way.
And then it all got blown up! Because after the bride and grooms parents both attack her at once, insisting that she go dance and enjoy, she unplugs the speakers from the DJ and gives a big speech about how she doesn’t feel like dancing and celebrating her best friend turning into just a “pillar” to help hold up her husband, giving up her own dreams to just be a support, but please, everyone else, enjoy! And then she plugs the speakers back in.
Well, that was a kind of unforgiveable thing to do! And the first sign, a mere 5 minutes in, that this is going to be a terrible terrible script. More interesting, we also got the first sign of Kareena’s efforts to play the character in a way that makes sense, despite the words she is forced to say. I see how the director thought this would work, they thought it would make us all go “yay Kareena! Speaking truth to power! And how funny, seeing how stupid she made all the wedding guests feel! Good for her!” But, that only works if you are a horrible person who likes making other people feel bad so you can feel special. Which, I’m assuming, is how the director sees the world. But it’s not how I see it!
(Proper wedding behavior. By a character who has learned not to assume she knows what is best for her friends)
Besides showing us that this movie will have tone deaf on the nose dialogue said by unpleasant characters, it’s also a clue to how behind the times and simplistic it’s view of gender issues will be. I mean, Kareena is yelling at the bride’s parents for deciding what will make the bride happy, but how is she any better? We see the bride dancing and happy, even during this speech she reaches out and holds hands with her husband for support, and seems to be in love with him. Let her pick for herself if she wants to get married or not! Feminism doesn’t mean all women should have careers, it just means all women should have options, whether that is having a career or not.
So yeah, I hate Kareena! Well, Kareena’s character. Kind of love Kareena the actress for how she tried to insert that “wistful” feeling in the early moments, maybe indicating that she wants marriage for herself but thinks it can never happen, thus leading to the bitter ugly mean rant. Oh, and I also hate Arjun’s character. He is introduced with a super super close up, like counting the pores on his face close, crying. What is up with these new directors and they close ups and handheld camera’s? Blech! It does not make for beautiful images, and actually it does make for nausea. And it’s an extra ugly image when you have Arjun ugly crying. I put that mostly on the director though, he could have told Arjun to just do a kind of subtle thing, but instead he had him go all out sobbing and sniffling with the camera looking right up his nose.
Arjun is sitting on an airplane, and Kareena is sitting near him with an empty seat between them. She asks if he needs anything, not like she actually cares, but like she just wants him to shut up. Arjun says he does, Kareena hits the call button and then asks what he wants, and he says he wants his mother. The Stewardess comes up, and Kareena tells her, all matter of fact, “He wants his mother. Can you get him his mother?” The stewardess looks confused and then just walks away. And again, I think the director thinks this is a cool thing to do, a sign of how confident Kareena is that she doesn’t care what anyone things, but I think it is a sign that Kareena is a narcissist who doesn’t care how much she inconveniences other’s so long as it makes her feel clever.
(At least Shahid was embarrassed for bothering the poor flight attendants)
She does actually ask Arjun about his mother, but again not in a sympathetic way, just like she kind of wants to make fun of him. Arjun explains that his mother is dead, this is her birthday, he misses her especially because she always got scared and held his hand while the plane was taking off and landing. And then we cut from this conversation on the plane to one in a bar. This is one of a series of conversations in the bar. And they are all terribly written. The actors, especially Kareena, do the best they can with it, Kareena is bouncing around and moving her hands and emoting like bonkers, but it’s still just an insane conversation in which they both immediately lay out their entire life plan. Kareena is a rising corporate person in a marketing firm, he just graduated from IIM and has no plans to join the rat race, his father is a big important builder in the city but he doesn’t take money from him, and he wants to be a homemaker like his mother. Kareena is interested in him enough that she tracks down a mutual facebook friend and is charmed when he compliments her by comparing her to spaghetti. And then she says something about him wanting to be “just” a homemaker or something, and he blows up and gives a big speech about how wonderful his mother was and so on and so on.
So many weird things in these scenes! Besides the fact that no one spits out their whole life story in five minutes. He “doesn’t take money from his father” and doesn’t have a job, so I guess he’s living on the streets? No, don’t be silly, he just doesn’t count living at home and getting enough to pay off a credit card as “taking money.” Plus, what’s up with the Facebook connection? It’s another tone-deaf thing from the director, I know that facebook connects us all and so on, but the fact that she is able to track him down so easily tells us they are both part of the upper upper upper society of Delhi. And the movie never does anything with that, never acknowledges that they aren’t exactly an “odd couple”, but rather part of the same small social group. And, the way he talks about his mother and father here, a friend mentioned to me that she just assumed his father was a serial cheater, because it comes off like there is something more going on with Arjun’s anger and defensiveness about his Mom. It’s like it was written that way without Balki being self-aware enough to realize that’s how it came off.
After the big fight, Kareena keeps calling and leaving messages apologizing. Finally, Arjun picks up and asks her to meet him the next day, even though it means bunking work. So she meets him at a train museum, where he is zipping around on a segway. Ugh, segway! It just makes him look like such a trust fund dilettante. Because he is a trust fund dilettante. She apologizes again, and they immediately go back into their strange “I’m like this, but you’re like this!” kind of conversational style. She explains her background, that her father died when she was only two, which might be why she is so focused at getting everywhere fast. Oh, this is also when he grabs her chest, because she says something about still being a woman and having feelings, being “soft” even though she is ambitious, and he reaches out and touches her chest to confirm she is soft. And then Kareena continues with her boringly written autobiography. Her mother got involved in social work and not for profits after her father died, she was raised in boarding schools, and has always dreamed about having a real home. She dates occasionally, but never thinks she can get married, because she is ambitious and likes to work and isn’t “one of those women who can do it all.”
And again, so much here that Balki doesn’t even realize is here! First, her mother put her in boarding school and started doing social work? What is up with that! Especially with the “I always wanted a home” ending. Clearly, she has lingering resentment, and is convincing herself that her mother “had” to do this, that her father’s death is what caused her life to fall apart, that the solution is to never marry and open herself up to another man so she can stay in control. But, no, the movie is never going to dig into this at all, it’s just going to deal with the surface stuff. Oh, and there’s also another decades behind the time version of feminism, she talks about “those women who can do it all”, but by this point we all know that no one can do it all. It’s not about “doing it all”, it’s about changes in corporate policy to facilitate maternity leave and childcare, about your partner doing their equal share at home, and about a realization that two high powered and high pressure jobs are not feasible in one marriage, one partner is always going to have to give a little more, or else both partners will need to take a small step back. Why even put that sentence in? Just leave it at the (very accurate) statement that she can’t have the career she wants and fulfill a traditional role as primary homemaker and caregiver to children.
Oh, so then Arjun proposes. Kareena laughs, but he points out that they would be perfect for each other and also she clearly cares about him since she skipped work to meet him today. It is super unromantic. I think it is supposed to come across as “quirky”, but it just comes across as robotic. And then there’s a song.
Song over, they go back to her apartment, and she introduces him to her mother. You know, the mother she secretly hates and resents only the script is never going to show that. She also tells her mother that Arjun wants to marry her and be her “wife”. The mother laughs, and says something about him not having a job, and Arjun asks if she would ask that same question of a prospective daughter-in-law rather than a son-in-law. I think we are supposed to go “oh wow, mind=Blown!” at this point, but instead I am thinking “Yes! I would totally ask that question of a prospective daughter-in-law!” If kids aren’t in the picture, I absolutely judge both a husband and wife if they have no way of contributing to the world.
I’m not saying that, like, a lawyer can’t marry a waitress. An income imbalance is absolutely fine. One person working just a few hours a week and spending most of their time taking care of the house, also absolutely okay with me! Or, one person doing unpaid work, volunteering several hours a week, while the other brings in the income, also totally fine! But, no answer at all to the “what do you do?” question? Not even “I’m very active on the local library board” or “I run the kids’ soccer program at our local park”? Just, nothing? What kind of person has no work whatsoever? Nothing to offer the world at large? How boring!
Oh, and Kareena’s mother also suggests that before they get married, they may want to have sex, to check compatibility. Okay, kind of an odd thing for a parent to say. Not because of moral issues with pre-marital sex, just ickiness and boundary issues with a parent talking about their child’s sexual life. Kind of goes back to that whole “and then she put me in boarding school” normalization of the idea that Kareena’s Mom is completely incapable of being a mother but we aren’t going to really talk about that or how it may have damaged Kareena’s view of motherhood.
And then they go and talk to Arjun’s Dad, who is delighted to meet Kareena, but cuts her off before she can talk about her job, and asks her to please, please, get his son to take a job, any job, even if it is as a lift operator! Like a man! And then Kareena stands up and defends Arjun’s choice to be a homemaker, and says she is proud to be with someone who is enough of a “man” to support her in her goals and to be strong in what he wants from life. And I think we are supposed to cheer her on? And think Arjun’s Dad is horrible for not caring about her career and wanting his son to work?
Only, Kareena is some lady he has just met, why should he care about her work? And also, why shouldn’t he want his son to do something, anything, to contribute to the world? It’s not like he is saying his son should take over his company or do something he can brag about to his friends, he just wants him to do anything productive and have some self-respect. Again, I think we are supposed to be thinking “oooo, if the genders were reversed, he would be all interested in Kareena’s job and be fine with his child having no career and just being married!” But, see, that would also be horrible! I mean, if Arjun was some bubble-headed society girl who wanted to get married right out of college and never work a day in her life, and her mother pushed her towards valuing her efforts in the world and doing more than simple stand in her husband’s shadow, if her mother ignored her prospective husband’s career goals and instead said that she cared more about what her daughter was going to do with her life than what her son-in-law is, wouldn’t we stand up and cheer? Why are we supposed to accept this binary just because the sexes of the participants are reversed? Arjun’s father is being a good parent, focusing on the needs of his child as he sees them over anything else.
And then they leave the house, but Arjun takes his segway with him, because he explains it was a gift from his uncle, not something his father gave him. Oh, that’s okay then! If it’s a gift from your uncle, it’s practically like you bought it yourself! Except, NOT AT ALL!!! Because you have never worked a day in your life or earned anything for yourself! (Again, I would be yelling these same objections if the genders were reversed. In fact, I did, back in Dil Dhadakna Do when Priyanka claimed that she started her company “on her own” by selling her jewelry. That’s not on your own! That’s using jewelry other people gave you!)
Oh, and then they have sex in Kareena’s car. It’s not very sexy. Because, once again, it is written and directed in a way that no human has ever acted ever. They are basically “let’s have sex now!” No nerves or excitement or eagerness, just sort of cheerful “the script says we are supposed to have sex to show how modern our relationship is, so we are!”
And then they get married in a registry office, with Kareena’s Mom there as witness. And Arjun pulls out a Mangalsutra, tells Kareena it was his mothers, and then asks her to put it on him! The thing is, when he says it was his mother’s, you can see Kareena’s face soften, as she is touched that he would use his mother’s memory to bless their union. And then he asks her to put it on him, and her face changes back to a jokey cocky laugh about how they are spitting in the face of society, ha ha. But, these two reactions make no sense together. His mother’s Mangalsutra is a touching way of welcoming Kareena into the family, of building a bridge to the past, all the best parts of traditions. And then they spit in the face of it, by having Arjun wear it instead of Kareena.
If they had both been men, absolutely this would have been a touching way of building on tradition. Or if he had given her his mother’s Mangalsutra and she had surprised him by giving him a similar heirloom Mangalsutra from her family, that would be sweet. But instead we have Kareena react like a natural human person would to this sign of a blessing and connection to the past, followed immediately by insulting it by turning it into a joke. Literally turning it into a joke, they are laughing when he puts it on.
More importantly, it is once again reinforcing gender roles while thinking it is questioning them. If Kareena goes out in the world and works, she isn’t a wife any more? She can’t wear a Mangalsutra? She can’t get the blessings of his mother and the societal respect due to a married woman? She has no connection to the long history of married women in Indian society? Any historical, religious, or social definition of wife hood (all of which are contained in the Mangalsutra) is removed from her simply because she does not want to stay home? Blech!
Oh, and then they have sex again. So many sex scenes in this movie! I think they tried to replace actual romance and a spiritual connection between the two characters with sex, because sex is easier to write/film.
(See, this is a good sexy song that also feels like a connection between the characters. And has fun with the Mangalsutra without destroying its meaning)
Next morning, Arjun is the perfect new daughter-in-law, ha-ha. He brings in Chai for Kareena in bed, takes blessings from her mother, and makes them breakfast. And again, I feel a little strange because I think I am supposed to find if amusingly shocking, and I just don’t. Seems perfectly normal to me, if he wakes up earlier in the morning, why wouldn’t he make coffee? I know it would be seen as unusual in the Indian context, perhaps, but we are not talking about a lower class rural household, we are talking about a super super urban and international household, and I already know of Indian households like that were the husband makes breakfast/tea because they wake up earlier. It’s not exactly groundbreaking. Oh, and the blessings from his mother-in-law bothers me for the same reason as the Mangalsutra, it’s not that he is just doing the chores that are traditionally the realm of women, he is claiming the spiritual blessings associated with womanhood just because he is doing those chores, which be implication removes those spiritual blessings from any woman who does not fulfill a very strict definition of womanhood. Oh, and he is still wearing the Mangalsutra, but around his wrist. So, great, you get all the blessings and significance of the Mangalsutra, but you don’t respect it enough to wear it in the traditional manner.
Kareena goes to work and jokes with her boss that he was taking meetings on his wedding day, why shouldn’t she come to work the day after she gets married, which I already talked about in my review as being a sign that all of society is broken if this is the kind of expectation we have of a wage-earner! And Arjun stays home and catches their maid turning up the air-conditioning, watching TV, and then calling her boyfriend to have sex in the apartment. Arjun confronts her when the boyfriend is leaving and tells her he is docking her pay for having sex, and expects her to arrive at 9am instead of noon from now on. And I guess that is all we are getting about the intersection of class and feminism?
Because, of course, there is a whole deal being made about how Kareena wants to work and is the support of her household, how unusual! But their maid, and lower class women like her, have been the support of their households already since forever. They aren’t worried about having a “right to work”, they are worried about having a right to decent wages, treatment, and choices in labor. How about the maid who works dawn to dark in order to support her family, is brave enough to take a few moments of enjoyment of the air conditioning and television in the households where she labors, and takes control of her own sexuality by arranging trysts the only place and time she can, while at her job? Where is her movie? How is Kareena, working in a safe and pleasant environment for super high wages and keeping her husband at home, ready to pleasure her, more of a heroine than the maid? Again, this is a super out of date theoretical framework for a feminist statement. Issues of class and intersectionality have been a thing for at least 20 years. Read a couple of articles before you write a movie, Balki!
Or maybe just take a minute to talk to your own maid about how much she makes a month, how many people she supports on that wage, and how her wages compare with those brought in by the men in her household, and if that means she loses the right to wear her Mangalsutra. And how she would feel if you told her she wasn’t really a “wife” because she contributes more to the household income than her husband does and spends less time at home.
That night, Kareena and her Mom come home ready to order dinner, and Arjun yells at them that there will be no more ordering in, they will have home cooked meals from now on. This is about the only time there is any acknowledgement of the actual economic advantages of having a dedicated homemaker. And then it is immediately undercut by a montage of Arjun spending Kareena’s money.
In this song (at least, the movie version of it), we see Kareena handing him cash, then setting up a joint checking account, then giving him a credit card. We see him buying a ton of stuff for their apartment and supervising a bunch of workmen installing it. We also see him making fancy dishes and taking them around to the other women in the apartment building and making friends. And then him going out with all the other women on shopping expeditions and having parties and so on. We do NOT see him setting up a household budget, comparison shopping for goods, cutting down on the hours/wages of the maid by substituting his own labor, or in anyway contributing to the financial health of the household. And we definitely don’t see the other women in the building that he befriends doing anything at all besides gossiping, gambling, and shopping with (presumably) their husband’s money. Because that’s all homemakers are, right? Financial parasites who enjoy every moment of their day and never do anything unpleasant?
And almost equally irritating, we see Kareena succeed and succeed and succeed at work. Because that’s all that holds women back at the workplace, right? The lack of a man at home to support them? There’s no institutional sexism or added pressure or expectations or sexual harassment or anything like that? Oh, and of course she has no angst or regret about working long hours and never being home! Because certain people are 100% workers and others are 100% homemakers, the world is not a rich rainbow of personalities and desires, it’s just black and white.
Finally, after yet another super successful presentation, Kareena’s co-workers pressure her into inviting them home to meet her husband. When she is home, she has hired caterers for the party and Arjun is worried about having enough food and so on, just like any homemaker would be. Kareena also mentions that, by the way, her co-workers know he is mostly at home, but she also told them he is writing a book or something, not that he is “just” a homemaker. Arjun is a little hurt, and she asks him to go along with it, because they “wouldn’t understand our life.” This whole conversation is so weird, it’s like they are hiding some kind of really outside of society cut and dried secret, like if they were a same sex couple or into extreme S&M or something. It’s just not that big a deal! Oh, and also, he really should have some way of describing himself besides “homemaker”. As I’ve been saying all along. Volunteer! Take a class! Teach a class!
They make up and Arjun agrees to go along with it for the evening, but later at the party when everyone is talking and Kareena’s boss asks Arjun what his book is about, Kareena interrupts and makes a big speech about how Arjun is an artist, and the art he creates is their beautiful home, and he makes her so happy by doing that. Well that’s nice, but again a little bit too much when just saying “My husband takes care of the house while I am at work” would pretty much cover it.
Also, another much more interesting gender issue is in your face in this scene and director is so unaware he never even sees it. Kareena has changed again, her third outfit today, for this party. Going from her work clothes, to her home lounging clothes, and then into a nice dress for the party. Meanwhile, Arjun has been wearing the same casual pants, t-shirt, and hoodie, all day. This has nothing to do with who is at home and who is out in the world, and everything to do with the different societal assumptions about appearance between men and women. And yet, the director doesn’t even see it. Even though he had to instruct the costume designer to come up with 3 separate looks, wait while his star had her hair and make-up completely redone, and consider which outfit would best convey “career woman” “relaxed at home” and “party-party”. That is how ingrained this kind of societal assumption is, much more than any superficial discussion of who might earn more money and who might do more around the house. And it is one of the many ways in which, despite staying home rather than earning wages, Arjun still gets to enjoy his male privileges. But we’re not going to talk about any of that, because Balki is too much of a chauvinist to see it.
And then that whole problem with her co-workers is resolved never to come up again! This is what I mean by sitcom style structure. Everything is fixed in neat little 20 minute chunks with no over-arching theme. And it’s on to the next problem! First, Arjun stops by his childhood house to pick up some extra train bulbs he left there. Because he re-designed the apartment around a whole train theme, and I don’t even want to get into how impractical and childish that is! His Dad seems him and assumes he came to ask for money, Arjun looks discussed and doesn’t even acknowledge it, and the next thing we see is him and Kareena traveling to Dubai. I actually assumed that he had borrowed money from his Dad to pay for the trip, but apparently it is actually a work trip that Kareena has brought him along on, just like her male co-workers brought their wives. Poor construction, Balki! Don’t throw in that soon and then never connect it with anything else, the viewer is going to assume it is related to the next section of the narrative anyway.
(Dubai! They go to this same mall again. After seeing it in so many movies, I really want to go to this mall now!)
And then we are supposed to have more “ha-ha, he’s a girl!” stuff with Arjun going shopping and to the beach with the wives while Kareena works. Only, again, my reaction is “this is an unhealthy work-life balance for everybody! Wives shouldn’t be brought along as a random accessory because they have so few interests of their own and workers shouldn’t be expected to work this hard to the exclusion of all other parts of their life!” It ends with Arjun at a party, complaining to the other wives about how this is supposed to be their honeymoon, but he never sees his wife. And then he notices that she is talking to a male business associate and laughing a lot and looking extra interested. He goes over and asks if she is ready to go up to the room, and she dismisses him, and says she will be up later.
And when she does go up, they have a huge fight, in which he is jealous of the time she is spending with male co-workers, and implies that she slept her way to the top, and she is insulted by that accusation and yells about getting everything on her own. And then they have sex. And then joke about how great “American jealousy” is for their marriage. Uh, what? He just accused her of sleeping her way to the top, and it’s just gone? That wasn’t an incredibly over the line comment which gets at the heart of the gender imbalance in the workplace? Plus, the way Kareena played the scene, you could see just how much that hurt and how over the line it was. But then the next morning it is just gone, because the script tells her the conflict has to be over.
And time for a new conflict! Oh, but first (I think), a little joke about him taking care of their health, because her mother gets a report from the doctor that she has high cholesterol. So he makes them drink juice in the morning and starts buying lowfat foods. I can see if the genders were reversed, this would play as a wife/daughter-in-law being sweetly concerned for her loved ones. But it is really different when it is a man, and it brought up all kinds of triggers about men controlling women’s bodies, and making decisions on their behalf. Oh, and also he realizes that health food is more expensive than less healthy food for the first time. And he’s been buying the groceries for how long now?
Oh, and then there’s a scene where they are walking together at night and some guys whistle at Arjun and he beats them all up. So, he gets to both control what she puts in her body, and who is able to look at her body? And this is a progressive movie? I mean, at first glance neither of these sequences is really problematic, it’s just that this is positioned as a movie about gender roles, and it is so clear that the director put no real thought into how gender roles actually function in society and what really needs to be questioned.
And then it gets worse. Their landlord shows up out of the blue and tells them he is selling the apartment. Yet another problem to come up and be solved in twenty minutes with no connection to anything coming before or after. Well, except in how tone-deaf and insulting the resolution is. First, Arjun sits down and works out a household budget, apparently for the first time ever. Has he really just been spending money without knowing where it is going? Does Balki think homemakers only know money as pretty pieces of paper with numbers on it, and not an abstract value they need to constantly balance? And second, Arjun decides to take his male privilege out of the house and monetize it, by becoming a trainer/dietician for all the women in the building. Because, first, the only problem these women have is that their bodies are not as desirable for their husband’s as they could be. And second, all they need to solve that problem is to give over control to a man. I mean, isn’t that the solution for all the problems women create for themselves? Just hand everything over to a man, because he knows what is best for them?
Oh, and they pay him for the privilege! He makes enough money off his training montage for them to pay the extra needed for the household budget to cover a mortgage payment. And another problem is solved!
Which leads to the worst of the worst scenes in the film, when Kareena has a pregnancy scare. She comes back from a work trip all upset and runs to the bathroom, Arjun follows and finally gets her to admit that she is upset because she thinks she is pregnant, and she blames him for not being more careful. Maybe that is supposed to be a gender reversal, since often the woman is blamed for allowing an unexpected pregnancy, but if there is any area where genders really cannot be reversed, it is pregnancy. A man is just not going to experience it in the same way, and a woman is not going to give over all responsibility for birth control to him. Not if she is as focused on avoiding parenthood as Kareena’s character is. This whole scene is so frustrating, because Kareena is playing it with so many more layers than the script is giving her because, guess what, Kareena actually is a woman who knows how complex these issues are! Unlike Balki, a man, who wrote the script and just does not seem to get it!
(Now, this is a good sequence about a young couple dealing with an unexpected pregnancy!)
I mentioned already in my spoiler-review how frustrating it is that this scene is not followed by a conversation between the two about family planning, because that is what it is calling out for. And the reason it feels like that is because Kareena is playing it like a real human woman. She is upset about the pregnancy and already thinking about how it will effect her career and their finances, but when Arjun suggests an abortion, she looks more upset and doesn’t really respond. When the third pregnancy test she takes comes back negative, she looks a little regretful. When the next two are also negative, she looks happy, but there is a slight sort of “what if?” in her eyes. I’m not saying that her character really wants kids, but I am saying that it’s never going to be as simple and easy as Balki is writing it here. That this is an issue couples usually visit and revisit many times, and that the feelings involved are way more complex than a simple “it’s bad for my career.” And Kareena gets that, and plays the scene that way, but she isn’t supported by the script, which fails to ever go farther into the issue, and appears to decide this scene is all that is needed. It doesn’t even acknowledge that there would still be a visit to the doctor just to be sure, because who gets two positive tests and three negatives, and doesn’t go in for a blood test just in case?
And then we move right into the final section of the film, which gets to be a special two-parter season finale sitcom episode, instead of just a quick 20 minute one! In our first half, Kareena gets a big promotion at work and starts working more and being home less, while Arjun continues to support her (again, no interrogation of the expectations of a worker and how they are probably even worse for a woman who has to “prove” herself). She is on magazine covers and so on. Then, in an interview, she talks about how her husband supports her, and Arjun gets to be interviewed as well. And suddenly he is a media star! And has less time for housework, leaving Kareena and her mother with nothing to eat for dinner when they come home from a long day, etc. He has a cooking show, gives more interviews, is on magazine covers, and finally is invited to visit her office as a guest speaker on gender issues. And on the way home from that, Kareena lays into him about how he really shouldn’t be talking, because she is the impressive one, what has he done, really? And Arjun agrees to back off and stop making public appearances.
Biggest missed opportunity right here! The frustration shouldn’t bee that he is getting more credit than her, it should be that he is getting more credit than a woman ever would for doing the same things, because he is a man. And she is getting less than a man would, because she is a woman. It’s so obvious! But Balki has his male blinders on and doesn’t see it. Oh, and also this whole thing with him getting to be a media star for being such a good homemaker and at the same time no longer being a good homemaker, and making Kareena jealous of his acclaim, all of that, is the exact same plot as The Thrill of It All, a Doris Day movie from 1963. Yeah, you’re real timely and cutting edge, Balki.
(Actually, the structure of this trailer alone is more cutting edge than Balki’s whole movie. Carl Reiner is so cool.)
This all culminates in Kareena deciding to travel alone for a month to a training conference in New York while Arjun stays home. Arjun is invited to a college reunion during this time. Which would be a great moment for him to start questioning his value and so on, as he sees all his successful batchmates, but nope! Instead it is just a chance for an old friend to pressure him to speak at a Woman’s Day event in Bombay. Even though Arjun is completely correct when he points out that a woman should really speak at Woman’s Day, he eventually agrees.
I mean, this really is disgusting, even on the day that is supposed to be completely for them, women still get to have a man explaining to them what their lives are like and how the world works. Thank you, oh wise one, for explaining the importance of housework and how hard it is! Otherwise, we never would have known!
And, Amitabh! We go from Arjun arriving in Bombay to Amitabh greeting the crowds outside his house, as he does every Sunday, and then coming inside to see Jaya watching Arjun’s interview on TV. And this is the part I talked about in my spoiler review as the most realistic part of the film, when they actually have a conversation like real 3 dimensional people about the reasons that Jaya’s career stalled while his took off. Because they had kids and life happened. But, Jaya is still excited by what Arjun is talking about with a man offering to take care of the house, so Amitabh agrees to invite Arjun over.
Arjun is packing to go home when he gets a call arranging for him to meet with Amitabh. Naturally, he is all overcome by the honor. And even when Kareena calls him and tells him that her mother had a minor incident and is in the hospital, he explains that he can’t leave right away, because AMITABH BACHCHAN! It really is a brilliant choice of a cameo, both someone who you truly cannot turn down, and a couple who really did have equal careers at the time of their marriage.
Kareena is mad and just hangs up on him. Arjun goes to Amitabh and Jaya’s house, which really feels like it was actually filmed in their house. There’s family photos everywhere and it looks nice and lived in. Jaya hangs on his every word, but Amitabh looks a little irritated and jealous the whole time. Finally, as he is leaving, Jaya gives him a wooden box with a gift to take back to his wife.
He has the gift with him when he finally arrives at the hospital to check on Kareena’s mother. Kareena is all upset because she got their first, her mother was home alone, and he was off giving ANOTHER INTERVIEW! Even though he promised he wouldn’t. The doctor chases them out of the hospital room because they are being too loud, and they end up having a huge fight in the stairwell.
Kareena just completely loses it, and suggests that this whole thing was a conspiracy, he knew which flight she would be on when they first met, he targeted her, he seduced her, he convinced her to support him, and now he is reaping the rewards in all this public acclaim. Okay, I have to admit that I kind of thought the same thing at the beginning, because it was all so pat. But turns out, that was just really bad writing, not a conspiracy.
Arjun is super hurt by this, and storms out of the hospital. Kareena goes back to the room and sees the gift from Jaya, opens it, and finds a Ganesh statue and a handwritten note. The note (Finally!), comes close to acknowledging that even if she is the wage-earner, it is still harder for a woman than for a man. But it doesn’t quite come right out and say it, and it is immediately followed by Kareena having a conversation with her mother in which her mother rejects any gender elements and says it is just because she isn’t used to having attention paid to the homemaker while she is the wage earner. In fact, it has nothing to do with gender it is just their position in the household. Gee, gender blind social analysis! I feel like I’m back in the 70s!
So, Kareena fails to point out that there is a bigger gender imbalance going on which they need to address, not to mention the lingering issues around children, money, baggage from their childhood, and all the other sticking points of marriage, and instead goes all “wow, Mom, you’re right!” and rushes to the airport.
She figures out that Arjun is probably on a flight to Chandigarh, to visit the same friend he was coming back from seeing when they first met (whole other issue here, that Arjun is never shown to have friends outside of the neighbors and she is never shown to have friends outside of work.), so she rushes to the airport and tricks the airline into giving her his seat number by saying someone is dying. Oh, ha-ha, Kareena is once again using the kindness of strangers to her advantage. I’ll remember that when I can’t reach someone during an actual family emergency because the customer service lines are filled by overly self-centered rich women.
(Sorry, that’s an insult to the 70s. Abhimaan was from the 70s and it was already further ahead of where Balki is with this movie)
Of course, she gets the same aisle seat with him by the window. Of course, she tries to cutely recreate their meeting, first by crying (which he ignores), then by standing up and loudly banging the doors of the luggage areas and looking under seats until a flight attendant comes over. And then Kareena tells her she “can’t find her husband, can you help look?” The flight attendant does not visibly roll her eyes, but probably does mentally, and walks away. The other passengers no doubt now want to strangle her, but restrain themselves. These are the real heroes!
Having made her big fuss, Kareena finally gets Arjun to pay attention to her, and she tells him she is sorry, and they hold hands across the empty seat between them, and I am super made and frustrated by how lame and unfulfilling that ending, and really the whole movie, was. But, before I can ask for my money back, Yo Yo Honey Singh comes on to sing us out, and I am all happy again. And I don’t remember how angry I was until later, when I am walking out to the car and it is too late. Ah, Balki! Tricky! Getting Yo Yo to cover your exit!