It will take me some time to believe that a film like Arjun Reddy needed a remake. Honestly, I don’t see the point of remaking a film seeped in misogyny and toxicity. Kabir Singh, the Hindi adaptation of Arjun Reddy will unsettle you in ways no one can imagine. The movie for most women will prove to be a trigger as it casually masks violence against women and rape culture. In this day and age, we ask director Sandeep Vanga if it was worth telling the story of a man who clearly does not respect women and his love for a woman is in fact just his sense of entitlement. The movie is disturbing for its blatant perpetuation of rape culture and the character has blatant disregard for the opposite gender.
Story: Kabir Singh is basically your modern day Devdas. The man who cannot accept a rejection from a girl and goes on a self-destructive journey. But, not that Kabir was any less incorrigible before his ladylove Preeti rejected him to marry someone of her parents’ choice. Kabir, is your average Indian man who has no regard for rules, women, authority or any good things. He uses violence casually with men and women. He slaps the woman he loves, he attacks his maid physically and these scenes are met with hoots and claps from the audiences. For a short while, I thought I was on a time-machine and I had been teleported back to the 70s, where such kind of stalking was passed off as romance. Kabir Singh, who in spite of not being on drugs or alcohol is still a menace to women and the society around. The film opens to the scene of Kabir Singh holding a woman at knife-point and asking her to strip. This scene, too like others is met with laughs. His ladylove Preeti, does not have much of dialogues, let alone the complex topics of agency and choice. While, Devdas’s women Paro and Chandramukhi, both who were headstrong and powerful in their own ways, Preeti, is stuck in a rut. She clearly is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome which is the only explanation as to why her character loves the toxic Kabir. In all the blatant show of misogyny, the audiences are informed that Kabir Singh is a medical student, a topper and preparing to be a surgeon.
Execution: Just one question to the director Sandeep Vanga, “What was the need to make this film?” Kabir Singh, is probably the most problematic film I have seen in recent times. Arjun Reddy, the original film with the lead actor Vijay Deverakonda was steeped in misogyny as well. There was absolutely no need to remake a movie so disturbing. Talking about the technical aspects, the editor has done a fine job. Some of the cuss words, of course, have been censored, courtesy of the Censor Board. Cinematic liberties in its place, the problem with Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s direction is he has given us a hero, who instead of being institutionalized is allowed to roam around with humans and we are supposed to feel sorry for him being this way as the love of his life has left him. The DOP Santhana Krishnan Ravichandran has done a fair job when it comes to the camera and the shots.
Performances: Shahid Kapoor, has done a good job playing a repulsive character. He plays the character, Kabir Singh, with a lot of intensity and it shows. His character is that of an alcoholic and drug-addict surgeon, and is the protagonist. Kiara Advani, who plays Preeti, does not have much of a role. Her first dialogue in the film comes after a staggering hour. While reviewing the film, I am stuck at the point where I am unable to fathom the acting prowess of Shahid Kapoor. He is intense in the film, be it while talking to his professors, his friends or women. It would be far-fetched to say that this may indeed be one of Shahid Kapoor’s career best performances. There are few fight sequences, but they are all blatant display of toxic masculinity. But are we supposed to cheer for these problematic roles?
Music: The music is quite passable, some of the songs composed by Irshad Kamil, Mithoon and Manoj Muntashir play in the background and are quite average.
The movie has disturbed me greatly. To the point where I am unable to decide if I should marvel the actor’s acting prowess or the problematic storyline. Arjun Reddy and Kabir Singh are a reminder of the incel culture in our society, where men want to blame women for the choices they make in their personal lives. For a movie that glorifies rape even in the original outing, did it really require a remake? I was astounded as I saw men cheering and clapping for the problematic scenes in the film. Shahid’s Kabir Singh, needed therapy and not a three-hour long film. It doesn’t surprise me that Arjun Reddy was a hit in South and had opened to rave reviews, most of them films perpetuate rape culture and justify the wrongdoings of the hero.
In a post MeToo era, when filmmakers across the globe are being sensitive towards gender and sexuality, does it not bother Indian filmmakers when they keep making films on the Devdas trope?