Kabir Singh glorifies toxic behaviour: More flaws in Shahid Kapoor film beyond misogyny
How does one make film about a flawed character? The question is gaining currency on social media as Shahid Kapoor’s latest film Kabir Singh hit theatres on June 21 and critics termed it chauvinistic, patriarchal and misogynistic. Directed by Sandeep Vanga Reddy, Kabir Singh is an official remake of 2017 Telugu hit Arjun Reddy.
The film traces the story of a brilliant medical student who goes into a downward spiral after the woman he loves marries someone else. Vijay Devarakonda played the titular role in the Telugu hit while Shahid has essayed the role in the remake that also stars Kiara Advani.
While it may be argued that the film is about a crazy person who does not know how to control his emotions, Kabir Singh does not fail feminist ideals alone – there are quite a few cinematic ones being betrayed as well.
Kabir (Shahid) is an insensitive man, demanding ‘love’ from the heroine and being a physical threat to her even before the breakup. In that respect, there is actually no change in his attitude after the breakup. For such a flat character with little ups and downs in the growth arc, a film must focus on the horror of the protagonist’s actions and not glorify them.
The recent Bollywood film Raman Raghav 2.0, for example, told the story of a psychopath killer who continued targeting and killing people in his own style – away from common rationale. But the film never shows him as the hero. Kabir Singh, on the other hand, often promotes the psychotic behaviour of its protagonist as one inspired by intense love. He even goes about being the celebrated ‘talented’ surgeon whose junior staff keeps a drink ready for him before he enters the operation theatre.
Arguably Shahid’s career best, the film gives him the chance to flaunt his skills as it is a deeply twisted character that he plays. To embody such disturbing characteristics and portray them onscreen, provoking people to hate him, is testimony to Shahid’s acting skills.
Watch: Shahid Kapoor, Kiara Advani host special screening of ‘Kabir Singh
That said, Kabir Singh is not the best movie Shahid has in his filmography -- he has portrayed flawed characters in Kaminey, Haider and the more recent Udta Punjab. But the story of these films ensured Shahid’s character was seen as a flawed one – not one who should be cheered on.