Movie Review: ‘Kabir Singh’

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A Hindi adaptation of ‘Arjun Reddy’ (2017) has finally arrived in Bollywood in the shape of Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani starrer ‘Kabir Singh’ this weekend. With original writer and director also directing the Bollywood version, one would be right to assume it’d have the same effect that the original Vijay Deverakonda and Shalini Pandey film. However do the lead stars produce the same hype that ‘Arjun Reddy’ did and how does it fare with the Hindi cinema audiences?

Kabir (Kapoor) is a house surgeon with a very bad temper. During a football match, his behaviour and anger take over and he gets into a brawl with a player from the opposing team. When the Dean asks him to apologise or be suspended, Kabir chooses to leave until he lays his eyes on Preeti (Advani). What follows is him telling everyone within the college that she is exclusive to him and he starts taking her away from college to give her his own medical lessons. At first she seems to be uncomfortable but eventually her feelings develop. Will Kabir anger affect their relationship and when they move on their in their careers, will they still remain together through it all?

It has to be said that Vanga has created the same euphoric version of ‘Arjun Reddy’ for the Hindi audiences. Primarily shot in Mumbai and Delhi, the film is a great portrayal of so many things and the story remains all-consuming. You may not agree with everything the main characters do in the situations they’re in but you definitely feel engaged throughout. Vanga creates a world through his storytelling which moves fast and pulls no punches. The characters are always convincing and the pace of the film is decent enough, if not weak at times due to the plotline. It’s interesting that Vanga has made a character within both ‘Arjun Reddy’ and ‘Kabir Singh’ who is hard to like. There are major problems today’s audiences will have with his behaviour but the attempt to do so and try to make a success of it cannot be discarded.

The performances in the original were lauded by the audiences. In ‘Kabir Singh’, it is evident that Kapoor totally gets into the skin of Kabir and is scarily convincing at times. He is rash, he’s all about his ego and – as many will know before they watch the film – has misogynistic tendencies. He’s not easy to identify with or like but Kapoor’s performance is infallible. You won’t be able to see another Bollywood actor fit into such a role – it’s almost as if it was Kapoor’s calling. He brings so much depth, aloofness and craziness to Singh that you want to see him on screen all the time despite it all. Kapoor’s chemistry with Advani is fresh and interesting and hits just the right tone throughout the film. Advani manages to give one of her best performances as the subtle, strong and mature Preeti. She was last seen in ‘Kalank’ earlier this year and this role is the polar-opposite. She does well to create an impact with her performance. Soham Majumdar who plays Kabir’s trusted friend is perhaps one of the best supporting acts in rather a long time and he plays of Kapoor very well. Arjan Bajwa as Kabir’s brother, Suresh Oberoi as his father provide sturdy support when needed and Nikita Dutta as the heroine is a breath of fresh air. Adil Hussain and Kamini Kaushal are also great additions to the cast.

The music of the film is in keeping with the film’s themes with the slower songs coming in at the right time – particularly Bekhayali and Mera Sohneya.

There are many flaws for ‘Kabir Singh’ which were also in ‘Arjun Reddy’. However, the biggest flaw can be seen to be the plot and characters themselves. Although they are all-consuming, the film’s narrative places much importance on the male ego. The way Kabir treats Preeti from the moment he first sees her is something which doesn’t and won’t sit well wit much of the Hindi cinema audience. In a day and age where the world is achieving so much in terms of male and female equality, a film like ‘Kabir Singh’ does nothing to add to this but instead seems to add insult to injury. The “happy” ending at the end seems to make right Kabir’s behaviour towards Preeti and this is not a pretty sight even though is it heart-warming in the context. If you’re thinking for watching this one, be aware that it’s not for the faint-hearted. The treatment of women by the male lead and the expletives are questionable at every point. Even as a fictional story very loosely based on some of Vanga’s known experiences, it delves into places that sometimes the audiences may not want to be in.

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