Written by Manisha Lakhe on June 21, 2019
WHY DOESN’T ANYONE SLAP HIM?
A shot by shot remake in Hindi of the Telugu hit film Arjun Reddy, this film stays true to the tale of an obsessed lover. Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani are lovers in medical school but when she’s forced to marry someone else, the brilliant doctor goes into a downwards spiral of alcohol and drugs. The misogyny is very difficult to swallow for 174 minutes. The acting and the relationships between the characters make this film a decent watch, even though you slap people in your head several times.
SLAP! SLAP! SLAP! Right across their faces!
Never could understand why it is okay to endorse misogyny if the lad is good looking and brilliant and bad if he is/looks villainous. I have never slapped people in real life, but did so several times to everyone in the movie and even those who made such a toxic film.
One Tight Slap for thinking that it’s okay to REMAKE Southern Misogyny as Northern Misogyny
If you have seen Arjun Reddy, you will naturally compare the film with this remake. Vijay Devarakonda makes for a super convincing character: short tempered and violent and yet brilliant at his work. Shahid Kapoor is a wonderful actor too, and the casting is not at fault. It’s just that in this case, he just doesn’t look like someone would throw down a baseball bat and hit someone with his bare fists. Promoting violence like this is just plain awful because there seem to be no consequences.
Besides, Bollywood’s obsession with neat beards just does not sit well with a character who just flings himself down a spiral of sex, drugs and alcohol. That’s why Devarakonda’s Arjun Reddy was alarming and Shahid’s Kabir Singh is not as demented.
But if you have not watched Arjun Reddy on Amazon Prime, then you’re coming into this film cold. Kabir Singh is a wild card and yet the best student at a medical school. He loses his temper on the football field and gets suspended for beating up the members of the opposite team. He’s unrepentant and offers to transfer to another med school. As he waits for the Dean to sign the papers, he spots a gorgeous girl, Preeti Sikka, among the fresh batch of students and tears up transfer papers.
Slap! The Girl Is ‘Rank Holder’ But Spineless! Slap! For Everyone who thinks they can Brand Women as ‘Mine’
What happens next is so cringe inducing you will either walk out of the theater in disgust or take it like a masochist. Kabir proclaims that the girl is his. And no one dare say anything, including the girl. She has no choice. He tells her whom she should befriend and how she should study. He just drags her out of class and teaches lessons to her. She just accepts this like some lamb to slaughter. And you are supposed to find this behavior tolerable because he lets her stay in class when it is time to learn about the anatomy of Upper Thorax. Also because he won’t let anyone even look at her, beats up the lad who touches her. The fact that he kisses her against her will is considered as ‘something cool’ rather than repugnant. The reaction of his best friends is worse! They behave as if Preeti is privileged to have been ‘chosen’ by Kabir. Imagine a filmy villain like Prem Chopra or Ranjeet doing that… Why is that not okay, and this awful behaviour by Kabir ‘cute’?
You cannot stop rolling your eyes, when Preeti falls in love with Kabir and moves into the boys hostel. They’re physical and the friends seem to encourage this ‘Kabir rules!’ behavior. She’s also shown to be obsessing with him, showing up unannounced at his new med school where he’s studying to be a surgeon.
Slap To Everyone Around Kabir. No One Calls Him Out!
Thankfully they insert ‘years pass’ into the film and both are back in Bombay. He shows up at her doorstep, kisses her and her dad naturally throws him out because Indian culture. Of course he overdoses on morphine in anger and she’s married off. Now he’s angrier and drunker and tries to forget Preeti by doing drugs. Of course the Indian Censors are very strict with Hindi films and they don’t show Kabir do any kind of drugs as they let Arjun Reddy do. So the whole I’m drunk because she’s on my mind does not work because he’s also supposed to be a brilliant surgeon. How does one do mind bending drugs and still operate? Why are the nurses plying him with alcohol? Kabir tries to forget Preeti by trying to have an affair with a movie star and almost rapes another woman (at knife point) but fails… And even if you like Shahid Kapoor, the story gets too long winded. The end cannot come sooner. And if there’s a handy wall nearby, the explanation of the slap-one another love will make you want to crash your head on the wall. And then when you hear Kabir’s friend say, ‘Preeti’s pregnant, so she probably liked being with her husband…’ makes you want to slap the next person who says that this movie is great.
Arjan Bajwa is a good older brother to Kabir. His best friend/ sidekick has the best lines and makes for great person to have in your life. His grandma played by Kamini Kaushal is sweet too (Actor Kanchana plays the granny in Arjun Reddy and is leagues ahead!). With so many good people around him, it’s a miracle no one tells Kabir off, or at least slap him. At least once?
Again Vijay Devarankonda in and as Arjun Reddy is not only alarming when drunk and drugged and angry but also brilliant when he shows his softer, vulnerable side when he’s around Preeti. The music in the Telugu version is more mellifluous in comparison. Kabir Singh is not a good guy, and neither is the misogyny. But there’s something about poisonous love that draws you to such stories… And do remember to slap yourself for spending hard earned money on such films.
(this review sans slaps appears on nowrunning dot com)