Kabir Singh Movie Review: Shahid Kapoor romanticises toxic masculinity, and it's not good

Kabir Singh is not just an angry, abusive person. He’s sexist, elitist and an entitled a-word that I’m not using to keep it clean. I’m going with a very generous 1 star out of 5.

 |  3-minute read |   21-06-2019
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"Passion. Obsession. Love,” reads a BookMyShow notification on my phone, describing Kabir Singh. And that, right there, is proof of how we’ve killed — over-used, twisted, diluted, degraded and killed — love.

Shahid Kapoor’s Kabir Singh, a remake of the Telugu hit Arjun Reddy, starring Vijay Deverakonda, romanticises toxic and abusive behaviour. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that you believe it — well, most people do, that is.

Kabir Singh could be the poster boy of toxic masculinity. If he wasn’t that brilliant medical student-turned-surgeon, he could very well be a leader of the Romeo Squad, beating people into pulp when things don’t go his way. His obsessive love for Preeti Sikka (Kiara Advani) is so scary, you could well imagine him beating her up after marriage when he comes home, drunk.

inside_062119024100.jpgToxic Waste: Kabir Singh doesn't have a single redeeming quality. Yet, he's the 'hero' we're left with here. (Photo: YouTube screengrab)

No, don’t tell me he loves her too much, so he won’t lay a finger on her. He did already slap her and the emotional abuse is just beyond words.

But Kabir Singh is not just an angry, abusive person.

He’s sexist, elitist and an entitled a-word that I’m not allowed to use for the sake of propriety.

He picks a ‘healthy’ friend for Preeti because beautiful girls should have fat friends, who can provide emotional support and not become eventual competition. He breaks into a woman’s home and makes her drop her pants on knife-point, even as she informs him that her boyfriend is in the other room, so he can satisfy his physical needs. He abuses the father of the girl he apparently loves, saying he doesn’t have the class to find a better son-in-law — because Kabir is handsome, brilliant, successful.

Kabir Singh is an a-word. Again, I can’t say it for the sake of propriety.

But worse than Kabir is director Sandeep Reddy Vanga, whose direction and screenplay suggest that he’s not really telling a fictional tale — that could be his reality.

Both the Telugu version and the Hindi remake have puppets in the name of female leads. Shalini Pandey and Kiara Advani, respectively, who seem to not even have the agency to breathe in Kabir-land. Kabir’s (or Arjun’s) female friends too are just stick figures and have considerably less part than his two male friends. Fellow female doctors and nurses at his hospital are either treated as menial labour or as a slightly better alternative to masturbation. With climax, of course, as the ultimate aim.

13kabir-singh7_062119024206.jpgShut up and pucker up: Women have very little to do in Kabir Singh except to sexually gratify. (Photo: YouTube screengrab)

To be honest, Kabir Singh’s world is no place for a woman — especially a woman with even one drop of self-respect.

It scares me to think that there could be a Kabir-esque man around me, who’d probably watch this movie and then feel validated enough to whip a knife out and demand sex. It also gives me hope that other men around me will squirm at what they see and will know exactly how not to be.

As far as acting is concerned, Shahid is good and you can see him put in his all — yet he seems to have gotten caught in mimicry mode where he’s trying to be more Vijay Deverakonda and less himself.

Kiara, why?

The only thing good about the film is the music, available on YouTube and other song apps. Hence, there’s really no need to sit through this butchery of 'love' to catch the songs.

I’m going with a very generous 1 star out of 5 — and that’s only because of Shahid.

Also read: Not more Kabir Singh or Arjun Reddy! I want an 'angry young woman' in Indian cinema now!

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