Why I Loved Kabir Singh

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Like I said in my last post, I have a lot of unfinished posts on my laptop, but I chose to start with this one. I know this post would be controversial and I might lose some readers in the bargain. But, this is something I have to say. This is not a sponsored post and is just an opinion from a person who is a lover of movies. That's why I'll start by saying, as a person who appreciates good movies and good acting, I loved Kabir Singh. Yes, I did.

I'll be honest here. I only started watching this movie to make fun of it. I wanted it to be another post for the '#NotAMovieReview" posts that I do on my blog. My husband was out late at work and I was alone at home when I decided to watch this one, recently. I sat down with my notepad to mock the movie and write down the points. Ten minutes later, I realized that I was actually liking the movie. And by the end, I actually had liked it very much.

Kabir Singh is the official Bollywood remake of the Telugu hit Arjun Reddy. I haven't seen the original yet and I probably never will. I want this character to remain as Kabir Singh in my head and nothing else. Now, let's get to the movie.

***Spoiler Alert***

Kabir Rajdheer Singh is a brilliant medical student and the most popular and feared guy in college. He sees Preeti, a fresher, and it is love at first sight for him. He stakes his claim on her that instant and announces to everyone that she is his and all the males should stay away from her. He also goes on to say that this is just one girl and with new girls coming in every year, there is no dearth of girls for the other boys in college. Kabir saves Preeti from ragging and also chooses a healthy girl to be her friend. He even takes her away from her classes and teaches her anatomy by drawing on her and explaining the medical terms as they come. Preeti agrees to everything he says and eventually moves in with him into the boy's hostel. When the time comes for him to leave the college and pursue higher education in another city, she clings on to him. She then visits him as often as she can.

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When it is time for them to talk marriage, Preeti's father sees Kabir kissing Preeti on their terrace and is appalled by it. He instantly labels him as a "bad boy" and doesn't let his daughter marry him. Kabir is upset that Preeti is not standing-up for him and gives her an ultimatum of six hours to convince her parents. He goes home to attend his brother's wedding party and then passes out due to a self-administered overdose of morphine to ease his pain. When he wakes up two days later, he learns that Preeti is now married to someone else. His downfall thus begins. Not being able to forget the love of his life, he gets into the most cliched of stuff - Alcohol and drugs. This poses a threat to his successful career as a surgeon. While on a break from his mess, after nine months, he sees a heavily pregnant Preeti and assumes that she's carrying the baby of her husband. He later learns that the child is his and that Preeti has left her husband. They then get married and live happily ever after.

Sounds like the story of any movie, right? Apparently, not. This movie has been in the limelight for glorifying masculine toxicity and misogyny. The thought of a angry young man "bossing" over his girlfriend didn't go down well with the audience. It didn't matter to the audience that the girl in question is not the victim but the accomplice who enjoys the attention from her popular boyfriend. She doesn't find his behavior offensive or feels dominated. She's crazy about him as he is about her. She even takes certain pride in being his girl. There is a line in the movie where Kabir tells Preeti, "When you talk to me, you talk to me like you own me", that's exactly how Preeti is. She loves Kabir yes, but what she loves more is being his object of affection and love.

Coming to the main character now. Kabir Singh is a brilliantly written character. He is termed as a misogynist in many reviews and articles over the web. From what I saw, there wasn't an ounce of misogyny in him. Ego, yes. Misogyny, no. Misogyny is when you have a particular dislike for women. When your anger issues and life's problems take precedence over other people irrespective of gender, it is called something else. The movie has quite a number of characters. Kabir's supportive family and friends. Preeti's hesitant family. Throw in a popular actress and some hospital staff for good measure as well. But, the only character who remains consistent with his behavior is Kabir. He's smart, he's sensible, he's logical, and madly in love. Yes, he has a short fuse, but who among us hasn't had a temper when we were around 21-22? Is Kabir a bully? No. Does he randomly pick fights with people? No. He reacts when he's provoked. As would any of us.

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Let's watch the story through his eyes here. He sees a girl and falls in love with her. He even kisses her on her cheek the first time he meets her. She doesn't say a thing nor pushes him away. He takes her out of her classes and coaches her himself. She doesn't object to it and happily sits on his bike to go elsewhere to learn. When he gets into a fight with another guy in college over putting color on Preeti during Holi, he tells the guy "Not her man, I really love her very much. Stay away from her", the other guy agrees and let's them be. She in the meantime is carrying a baseball bat that would help him during the fight. Once the fight ends, she cries and hugs him. When she hurts her foot, he saves her from a surgery and moves her into his room in the boy's hostel. She happily gives in. Once alone, she initiates the kiss that leads them to sleep together. They continue to live together after that.

When the time for marriage comes and she is not able to convince her family, he loses his shit. How could he not? He's crazily in love with this woman and believes she loves him too. All she had to do was talk to her parents about how much she loved him and not about how many times they have "done it". Instead, she married another guy in two days, when Kabir was lying around in a drug induced state. This is the first time ever he has done that, mind you. How can a guy keep it together after all this has happened?

Have we all had happy break-ups where we let go and move on the next day? Heartbreaks change a person, it is not a easy place to be in. When Kabir finds himself craving sex, he reaches out to a girl who is crazy about him. While she is happy to sleep with him, Kabir backs out when she tells him that she loves him. He's clear about what he wants from her, what's wrong in that? Have people never heard of friends-with-benefits before? That much talked about scene where Kabir is asking a woman to undress at knife point; let's not forget that it was the girl who called him home in spite of having her fiancé knock at her door a couple of minutes later.

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I'm not justifying Kabir's behavior here, nor am I blaming the girls involved. All that I am saying is that this is a movie about flawed characters, raw love and everything else in between. Shahid Kapoor gives his career best performance in Kabir Singh. For a guy who aced it in Kaminey, Udta Punjab and Haider, this one takes his performance up a notch. He's absolutely brilliant in every frame! Kiara Advani, as stunning as she looks, cannot act to save her life. She only has a couple of dialogues in the movie, high-intense emotional ones and she manages to screw it up with ease. This is a Shahid Kapoor show all the way and I wish he gets his share of awards for this one irrespective of the backlash the movie got.

Not ignoring the elephant in the room anymore, let's talk about about the much debated slap. Kabir slaps Preeti when she's not able to convince her parents for them to get married. He was assaulted by the other guy who wanted to marry her and was abused by her parents a minute ago. When she refuses to say anything, obviously anybody would get angry. The slap came out on an impulse, it was a natural instinct. By this time in the movie, she had slapped him at least twice. Like I said, two flawed toxic characters in love. Let's leave them to it. Who are we to judge?

Bollywood has glorified toxic characters before. Devdas, Raanjhanaa and the most recent Gully Boy where Alia's character was no less than Kabir. Or is it okay for a woman to get all possessive and break a bottle on another girl's head, but not for a man to get into a fight with another man who touched his girl on purpose? What are we trying to imply here? And to whom?

Yes, Kabir is obviously flawed thanks to the situation he has been put into by an illogical confused girl who is doltish and volatile at the same time. She marries someone else in two days and leaves him in three days, proudly stating that "I did not allow him to touch me, not even my hand, not even my used clothes". Did she even think about what would happen to Kabir when she marries another guy? Especially when she's the one who knows first-hand how he's obsessed with her. Then, what about the guy she marries? What about his life, his future? Why ruin another life? If you ask me, had Kabir not loved Preeti so deeply, I'd say he deserved someone better.

Having said everything that I said, I'd like to again say that this is just another opinion from a movie goer. I am not a fan of the actor or anyone else involved in the movie. I believe in a good story and good acting. This movie ticked certain boxes for me and that's why I loved it. As toxic as the relationship is, the love shown here is raw, unfiltered and real. That ticked a major box for me.

When people say that Shahid Kapoor is giving out the wrong message to his fans, one should understand that his fans have a brain of their own and should be able to differentiate between fact and fiction. If a 3 hour movie can influence your behavior and lifestyle, you need to see a doctor, not another movie.

17 comments:

  1. It's not like anyone learnt anything from the good ones!

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  2. I guess it was more of a dom/sub kinda relationship, with both of them happy being who they were, with each other. And then, obviously, one person wouldn't have had the spine to stand up against his/her Indian parents' wishes, this being an Indian movie after all. I agree with you, Kabir deserved better.
    No, I didn't see the movie, the reviews put me off. I wish your review had come sooner! LOL!

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    1. Whatever it was, it worked for them. Who are we to blame?

      Do watch it once, Chicky. Just for Shahid's brilliant acting.

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  3. When I told people I watched Geetha Govindam just for the Inte Inte song, most asked me if I watched Arjun Reddy! I was like No, I didn't. They pushed me to watch that movie. I don't usually watch any movies that way. The last movie I was pushed for years together was Alaipayuthey and that was a major dumb movie.

    I love it when characters are madly in love with each other and somehow find a way to get back together. This one just went a step overboard, but truly common today, but I'm not to judge. Better late than never, is mostly after the wedding nowadays. I didn't hear the storyline of this one, but have listened to the Telugu songs, not much do I know about the Hindi version. I am yet to decide which version I'll watch. First there was just one, okay, someday I'll watch Arjun Reddy, now I have another option after reading this review.

    Now after the spoiler alert, I know I'll watch this one, but I'll wait it out. I'm surprised the Hindi version had backlashes. The Telugu version was glorified. Since you've put just for Shahid, I'll note it.

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    1. As movie goers we all have different opinions, this was mine. I loved the acting!

      Watch it with an open mind.

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  4. First up - I haven't watched the film but I have been reading the reviews and I've seen the famous interview of the film-maker where he said - Love means one has the right to slap the partner - or something to that effect. And I'm not convinced - either about the slapping or about Kabir Singh. This doesn't sound like a healthy relationship - and I'm not saying it's just him, the female protagonist too seems all wrong. They couple seems to be glorifying violent love. Again, I haven't seen the film but these are my impressions.
    Oh and I found Alia Bhatt's violent character trait annoying too so it's not just the male protagonist.
    PS: This doesn't mean though, that I'll stop reading you :-). We've disagreed in the past too, right?

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    1. Oh yeah, what the director said did not make any sense at all. There is nothing healthy about this relationship, it is toxic to the core. Violent, not so much. It is all about the situations and how they react to it.

      I had more problems with the girl's character than the guy's to be honest. Alia in Gully Boy was something else altogether too. I'm surprised no one spoke about it back then.

      Awww, dear Tulika. Nothing you said here sounds like a disagreement to me :). I respect all opinions <3

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  5. I read reviews that made me not watch the movie. So I haven't yet. In principle, if the love is violent or shows any gender in poor light, i am not in favor of it. Having said that, this is a movie and work of fiction. The way you have logically written this post, I like that there is consent and choice. I may still watch it but I am not intrigued enough to watch this one. ;)
    But that's me. You should be a lawyer, Soumya. :P

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    1. Hahaha, you are not the first one to tell me that :P

      Honestly, I'm not a fan of love stories at all! This one somehow shows raw human emotion. And the acting by Shahid! Splendid.

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  6. Aah! Finally, I read a review which mirrors my thoughts. I watched Kabir Singh on Netflix recently and loved it. Agree with you, Shahid owned his character totally. He isnt misogynistic as proclaimed in the various reviews. He has anger mgmt issues. When people say that this movie is sending a wrong message, I fail to understand them. Dont such characters live in our society? Dont we know the difference between real and reel? It's a story which has flawed character(s) which the actor brought to life, brilliantly!

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    1. Finally someone who feels the same <3

      Exactly! It was a flawed character and it was written and portrayed so well. I really hope Shahid wins some good awards for this.

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  7. I haven't watched Bollywood movies in years and I haven't watched this one but the summary you've provided along with the justifications concerns me enough to comment. The problem is, this is an abusive relationship. The woman's character has been written by a male who thinks it is ok to slap someone you love. I'm sorry but that's misogyny at it's core- thinking the woman is an object for a man to possess. When you describe her as complicit in the relationship and consenting to it all, I find myself questioning it. A lot of women who grow up in violent households don;t know better and end up with marcissists like the protagonist in this movie. Attempting suicide after a breakup is also a form of osychological abuse - I know that personally and professionally - and showing that in Bollywood movies only glorifies the act. I know you say it's a work of fiction but how many Indian men do you think are going to actually take it for that? The fact that a narcissist gets the girl the way he wants, controls her life, mansplains things to her, hits her - all of it is going to be viewed by the general public as being the norm to get a girl. We've seen time and again in India how men throw acid or attempt to kill women if they choose not to go out with them. I see it here too where some men will get violent if they don't get a woman. It's such a shame that in this day and age we get movies like this.

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    1. I get where you are coming from, Sanch. I totally do.

      More than the male character, it was the flaw in the female character in this one. He never considers her as an object to possess, she is happy being his object of desire. The woman here doesn't even feel that she's going through something toxic. It is she who ruins his life in many ways.

      Bollywood glorifies a lot of crap, I agree. Stalking, acid-attacks, everything has been shown. But, I also think that the audience today is mature enough to understand what is right and wrong. Men who are narcissistic and violent have always been like that. A movie will not change that. There are also many movie where a woman has been treated with respect and on the topic on consent. Do people learn from that? There are pros and cons to everything out there, it all depends on what you want to choose.

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  8. I got curious after seeing your review Soumya- what a brill review! You have hit the nail on the head at every juncture and I agree he deserved better. Shahid has played this character like a boss-he is just superb in every frame and I was rooting for me all the way. His anger and behaviour-all stemmed from the fact that he lost her.

    I had been reading all these comments and reviews of the movie and had stayed away from it but then you saw it and I had to read this and then.................

    I enjoyed watching the movie too and largely because SHE loved this attention. She was obsessed with him too and craves to be with him all the time. She slaps him too and goes to him for all her problems, expecting him to solve them.

    After watching the movie I am wondering at the reviews too- Thanks for writing this as I got to watch the movie because of it. :-)

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    1. Yayyyy! I'm so glad this post made you rethink and you watched the movie. I loved Shahid so much! He owns it!

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  9. So I haven't watched the movie yet. Not because of the negative reviews or anything like that. I mean yeah the reviews made it sound like a terrible movie, but I usually only judge something I have first hand experience with. Though I have to admit I was inclined to believe the reviews.

    And now I read this post of yours. And I have to say I found myself nodding along right from the beginning to the very end. Couldn't agree more with your POV on this. So putting this movie back on my wishlist to check out. Thank you so much for your review, S!

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