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Kabir Singh Review: Shahid Kapoor’s performance in and as the toxic lover, Kabir Singh, aces all else

The ‘intense’ love story Kabir Singh featuring Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani is a veritable kiss-a-thon!

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Star Rating: 

Kabir Singh is director Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s remade Hindi version of his own Telugu hit film Arjun Reddy (released in 2017). The Telugu version starred Vijay Deverakonda and Shalini Pandey in the lead roles, whilst the Hindi version features Shahid Kapoor as the titular character, paired with Kiara Advani as his romantic lead. Ironically, neither of the two were Vanga’s first choices (but both have done ample justice to their roles). The film is called a romantic drama, but earned an ‘Adults Only’ certificate at the Censor Board. The film is jointly produced by Cine1 Studios and T-Series. Despite a lot of back-and-forth on who would play the two leads, once Shahid was locked, the film was wrapped up in a record eight months, and released today (June 21). The heart-thumping soundtrack is by Mithoon, Amaal Malik, Akhil Sachdeva, Vishal Mishra and Sachet Parampara.

What Kabir Singh is all about:

It is the ‘intense’ love story between two medical students Kabir Rajdheer Singh (Shahid Kapoor) and Preeti Sikka (Kiara Advani), whose love doesn’t come to fruition in marriage. It unhinges the already toxic-charactered hero, now a surgeon, who becomes an alcoholic and descends on a self-destructive path when his girl-friend’s parents oppose their union and marry her off to somebody else. His family and friends rally around him and despair of him alternately. But he is hell-bent on getting his love back or then it doesn’t matter what happens… Selfishly enough, to him or to the people who love him and suffer for him.

The aggressive Kabir Singh, an academic topper and senior is respected and feared by all in the college. More fear because he is a bully and any amount of trying to bathe him in glowing adjectives would be a lie. He imposes his love on the young and impressionable Preeti, a fresher, staking and claiming her as his territory by going class-to-class saying it. As students of anatomy, they spend every spare minute in exploring each other’s, and rarely pause between kisses, the chain that keeps their love-story literally bonded. And so they complete their education. He goes to her parents to ask for her hand. Actually demand it. They refuse, and there are fights galore, and the two lovers say a lot of bad stuff to each other and move on with their lives. One with alcohol, and the other, with a ‘so-called marriage’. The downslide of Kabir is rapid and devastating for those around him. How does this whole bizarre, toxic relationship really end?  Ah well, watch and learn what not to do in one.

Yay:

Shahid Kapoor is simply brilliant as the troubled and troubling Kabir Singh. He seems to have enjoyed the role at points and really suffered at times. Either way, his immersion into this flawed character was complete and flawless. A spoilt, rich brat who is best friends with his forward thinking grandmommy (played very well by Kamini Kaushal), at constant loggerheads with his dad, Suresh Oberoi, and doted on by his mature, yet indulgent brother Karan, played by Arjan Bajwa. Even though his was a brief role, Arjan lent a lot of credibility to his character, and layered it as best he could to showcase the depth of his nature.

Kabir’s friends, Shiva (Soham Majumdar – very well-performed) and Kamal (Kunal Thakur) stick by his side through thick and thin. Kiara was effective as the naïve, impressionable and sometimes wilful lover girl. Their chemistry is unmissable. You can cut it with a knife. As performances and storytelling go, it makes for compelling viewing. The dialogues by Siddharth Singh, Garima Wahal and Sandeep Vanga score in many places.

Nay: The kind of hero this character is, is basically someone who one would suggest, required psychiatric help. The acceptance of someone like this so casually and normally grates one’s core. Yes, lovers like these, exist aplenty in the South Indian film hero’s portrayals, possibly in that social milieu too. But it completely sends off dangerous wrong signals as to the very foundation of what relationships are built on. The thought that the character is based a lot on Sandeep Vanga Reddy is scary. Emotional aggression is not acceptable. Ever. And physical intimidation, even lesser. THIS IS SO NOT HOW TO WIN LOVE. In fact, going further, this does not classify as love at all. It is glorified lust, with no thought about emotional damage on either lover’s part for the other. Or how do they justify just upping and leaving the other suffering in the trail of negative action post their separation?

Aarif Sheikh’s editing left one wanting for serious respite. At just short of three hours, it seemed a tale of interminable proportions. And not a happy experience. The sound track is good, but heart-thumpingly loud right through, no subtlety. But that is something this film lacks at many levels. It is not a subtle love story.

No amount of disclaimers and warnings can work with the sheer quantity of alcohol and drugs and the ways and means to hide it in open sight that were executed in Kabir’s home. Moreover, an almost-always-drunk surgeon taking pride in a few hundred surgeries where his hands didn’t shake, sorry guys, the medical community needs waking up. Despite Shahid’s excellent performance, at no point in time does he evoke one’s sympathy whatsoever. He is a selfish, manic, unduly angry, badly behaved, horny bugger, his misdeeds protected by money. There is no poetic or philosophic side to this wrongly named Kabir.

Cine Blitz Verdict:

Whilst the film may do well in the South and in the North of India, metro cities’ urbane audiences might find it off- putting. For sure it’ll do business. You should watch it for Shahid Kapoor alone. And to learn what not to do and be in a love relationship.

 

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