KABIR SINGH (2019)

  • Release Date: 21/06/2019
  • Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Kiara Advani, Soham Majumdar, Arjan Bajwa, Suresh Oberoi, Kamini Kaushal
  • Director: Sandeep Reddy Vanga

Let’s address the elephant in the room straight away. Yes! Kabir Singh is a vile, disgusting and authoritative man who sums up his ownership of his girl (who he says he loves) by deciding and dictating every step of her life in the Medical College that they are studying together. He slaps her and curses her to be married to someone else when he can’t get her to do his bidding. Kabir is a rich and spoilt brat who cannot take no for an answer. He is also someone who, when he is on a self-destructing spree, doesn’t bat an eyelid before trying to force his way into a woman at knife-point. He does all sorts of substance abuse and is unapologetic about it. He mistreats everyone around him including his best friend who never for once turns his back on him.

Preeti, the love of Kabir’s life is one of the most depressing and meek renditions of Indian women that we have seen of late. She lets him kiss her in public in their first meeting. She begs and dots for his love and affection and doesn’t have a problem being called his “bandi”. She willfully accepts that she is nothing without him and even though she is a doctor herself, she can’t find a voice in the midst of all the cacophony. She is also someone who forgives Kabir in a heartbeat after all the mistreatment and abandonment. There isn’t a single quality in the man that would make a girl fall in love with him.  There are moments in the film when I thought that she might be falling for the guy owing to “Stockholm Syndrome”.

Every proud woman and thinking man should have problems with characters like this in a modern world and if the reviews are any indication, a large chunk of the female audiences and critics are having a hard time accepting Kabir Singh for what it is. I totally understand their point. But my views on the matter is this — No matter how hard we try to shrug it off, people like Kabir Singh and Preeti Sikka are as much a part of our generation as are the self-sure, independent, and understanding lot. Making a film about characters like Kabir and Preeti doesn’t amount to compelling or inspiring a generation of men to be rowdy, chauvinistic lords of women.  Neither does it mean to tell females to be all-submitting mutes. It’s just a story about a specific type of people and whether or not we choose to be like them is our prerogative. I would never want to be a “Kabir Singh” and no self-respecting woman would like to be a “Preeti”. But then that’s just my point of view.

Kabir Singh is directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga who directed the original “Arjun Reddy”. It is a scene-to-scene rendition of the original and for anyone who has seen the original, there is nothing to take back home except Shahid Kapoor’s simmering act as the titular character. I was apprehensive about whether or not the man would be able to do justice to the mammoth feat that Vijay Deverakonda achieved with his rendition of “Arjun Reddy”. Thankfully Shahid takes no cues from his predecessor and approaches the character in his own way. He is thoroughly believable as the love-struck but control-freak boyfriend and cocoons into the most rousing version of himself in the portion where he spirals into a self-destructing abyss.

What Shahid has here is the meatiest role that a hero can ask for and he does all in his strength to measure up to it. There is a large portion in the second half where the film concentrates only on him turning a blind eye to what might be going on in Preeti’s life. This portion gives him more time to absorb the audiences into his realm and he does so with aplomb. After a while, Preeti becomes just a lingering thought and we don’t mind not seeing her. The only thing that was a spot of bother for me was the cutbacks between the past and present. While it felt fluid in “Arjun Reddy”, here time and again it felt odd and out of place.

Kiara Advani plays Preeti exactly how the character needed it to be played. She doesn’t have a complete sentence of dialogue until we are almost an hour into the film. She has very little dialogue even after that and even lesser to do except doing Kabir Singh’s biddings and looking helpless and cute. However, it must be mentioned that she does share wonderful chemistry with Shahid Kapoor and the romantic scenes between the two felt organic, real and easy. The best thing about her act was that every time you looked at her she felt like someone who could be made to do what Kabir makes her do. This gave her character a sense of realism that was essential to make it work. The only other supporting cast worth mentioning is Soham Majumdar who plays Shahid’s best friend. I really enjoyed his act and he felt real.

“Kabir Singh” is nearly 3 hours long but in its favor is the fact that there is so much happening in those 3 hours that one wouldn’t get bored. You may like what happens or you may hate it but you will definitely want to watch which way the story goes simply out of curiosity. Again, the manner in which it ends will make many cheer while many others will shrug it off like a bad dream but you can’t help but wait till the curtains roll. Therein lies Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s greatest triumph. He is able to create a film that will make people sit through it even though it has a story that has been told trillions of times and which might be repulsive to a large chunk of the audience.

Love him or hate him, you cannot ignore Kabir Singh. Shahid Kapoor turns in a performance that must have taken a lot of effort and getting used to. He is able to blur the line between who he is and the man he plays. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that after Haider, this might just be his best performance. Kiara Advani is apt in what is asked of her. Technically speaking, Kabir Singh is competent. The music, even though omnipresent, never gets on your nerves. More than anything, Kabir Singh is breezy and entertaining. If you choose to look at it as nothing more than a film, Kabir Singh will be a worthy watch.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

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