Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani in a handout still from Kabir Singh.
Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani in a handout still from Kabir Singh.

Kabir Singh director Sandeep Reddy Vanga defends film, says ‘If you can’t slap, touch your woman wherever you want, I don’t see emotion’

Kabir Singh director Sandeep Reddy Vanga, defending the controversial Shahid Kapoor-starrer, has said, “If you can’t slap, if you can’t touch your woman wherever you want, I don’t see emotion.”
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUL 07, 2019 12:01 PM IST

In his first major interview post the release of his latest film, Kabir Singh, director Sandeep Reddy Vanga has defended some of the most controversial aspects of the Shahid Kapoor-starrer, which has become this year’s latest blockbuster despite negative reviews.

Speaking to journalist Anupama Chopra, Vanga said, “When I started this film, I knew it would be a big success at the box office, but I never thought that the rage would be repeated, and it has multiplied four times now.”

The film has made Rs 218 crore domestically, and Vanga says that it can cross the Rs 300 crore mark, which would make it the most successful Bollywood film of 2019. The film has already become Shahid Kapoor’s biggest solo release of his career.

Asked about the allegations of toxic masculinity and poor treatment of women in the film, Vanga said, “When you are deeply in love and deeply connected to a woman (and vice versa), if you don’t have the liberty of slapping each other, then I don’t see anything there.” Vanga had previously directed the Telugu hit Arjun Reddy, which was also a major box office success, and had attracted similar criticism, albeit on a smaller scale.

Sandeep Reddy Vanga directs Shahid Kapoor on the set of Kabir Singh.
Sandeep Reddy Vanga directs Shahid Kapoor on the set of Kabir Singh.

Singling out critics who’ve slammed his film, Vanga described them as ‘parasites who are the real threat to the film industry’ and said, “Probably they never experienced (love) in the right way.” He added, “They were only on the feminist side, they didn’t speak about anything else.” The director was surprised that the conversation was mostly centred around the themes, and not the technical aspects of his film. He said this was perhaps because “They (the critics) hate me.”

Vanga repeatedly made references to Rajeev Masand’s scathing review of the film and referred to the critic as “Some fat guy who reviewed my film.”

“He gave two (stars) and audience gave Rs 200 crore,” Vanga continued. “I see him giving more than three (stars) to stupid films.” Providing the example of the Sanjay Dutt biopic Sanju, directed by Rajkumar Hirani and produced by Anupama’s husband Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Vanga said, “Rajeev Masand gave 3.5 (stars) to Sanju. ‘Sanju where is my mangalsutra?’ What happens after that, you can talk volumes about it. Everybody loved it. When he says he slept with 300-odd women, we were all cheering and whistling in the theatre.”

Sanju was also critically panned, but was a major box office success, making more than Rs 500 crore worldwide.

Speaking about a particular scene in the film, in which Kabir Singh physically assaults Kiara Advani’s character, Preeti, he said, “She slapped him without a reason, at least Kabir had a reason to slap her. If you can’t slap, if you can’t touch your woman wherever you want, if you can’t kiss, I don’t see emotion there.”

The film has been strongly criticised from several quarters. The Hindustan Times review of Kabir Singh, awarding the film one-and-a-half stars out of five, noted that “Kabir Singh applauds its pathetic protagonist, and ends up an obnoxious celebration of toxic masculinity.”

Shahid in a message of gratitude to fans, posted on his Instagram account on the occasion of Kabir Singh crossing Rs 200 crore at the domestic box office, had written, “He is flawed. So are we all. You didn’t judge him you experienced him. You understood him. I have never ever felt so thankful.”

Fans left mixed reactions in the YouTube comments section of the interview. “This guy himself is the manifestation of Arjun Reddy/Kabir Singh that’s why such bold answers,” wrote Rahul Ray. “Anupama Chopra deserves applause to remain graceful throughout the entire interview, despite this guy disparaging her entire field and her colleagues,” wrote Chirag Aidasani. “I can’t hate this man, he’s really being honest and raw. But he has some serious issues,” wrote Niharika Sharma.

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