Shahid Kapoor on Kabir Singh’s toxic masculinity: ‘We are hypocritical about Indian films’

Press Trust of India | By
May 12, 2020 12:05 PM IST

Actor Shahid Kapoor has said that we are hypocritical about the depiction of masculinity in Indian cinema.

Actor Shahid Kapoor Monday said his film Kabir Singh portrays a flawed man with all honesty and if the audience only wants to watch nice characters, cinema won't go far. Kabir Singh is the remake of the Telugu hit Arjun Reddy, directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, who has also helmed the Hindi version.

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

While the film became a rage quickly after its release in 2017, it was criticised for glorifying toxic masculinity and for using anger as a tool to justify the titular character's abuse of women and people around him. When asked if the criticism played on his mind before he started with the Hindi film, the director told reporters, "Anger is a very special quality. There is nothing wrong in using anger as a tool. It can be used in anyway an individual wants. I don't think the opinion of critics, what they mentioned during the Telugu film (was) playing in the back of my mind." Responding to the criticism, Shahid said sometimes "we are very hypocritical about how we tend to look at cinema made in India. We then watch things made internationally and praise them for the fact that they are so honest, straight and not trying to be politically correct all the time. Cinema is meant to showcase different people. It's not about wonderful, perfect people. I think we all are imperfect in our own sways. We all have grey areas within ourselves, we go through good and bad phases," he said.

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The actor, who was speaking at the trailer launch of the film, said everyone has been angry, hurt and negative at some point. "To me, watching a film like Kabir Singh will help understand that when you allow yourself to be affected by those things, it can take you on the path of destruction. It can warn you from going in that route. For people who might've been there, it can be therapeutic. Cinema acts as a medicine. If you see something you relate to, it helps you have catharsis of sorts." The Padmaavat star said for him, Kabir Singh is a cathartic film.

"It makes you honestly go through that journey of a man, without trying to sugar coat it, because then that's being manipulative. Sandeep has made an honest film and people should watch it knowing that. If people only want to come and see people going 'hey hey ha ha' then cinema won't go far. We need to be able to make real films."

When asked about the treatment of aggression in the original and if the makers avoided it in the remake, Shahid said the interpretation of films with evolving times cannot "always show the right thing." "I did Jab We Met. Who was the aggressive character in the film? I played the submissive character. In Padmaavat, I was playing much more quieter character and now I've done Kabir Singh where I am playing an aggressive character." When prodded further about how his character is territorial towards women, Shahid said in college there are alpha males, men who feel they have a sense of territorial ownership over a certain place.

"There are other men who aren't so aggressive in their behaviour. Some films depict those kind of characters, this film depicts this kind of character." However, when asked specifically if he justifies the acts of his character, the actor said, "You see the film and see what happens to him. Tommy Singh (in Udta Punjab) does much worse things than Kabir Singh. If I start justifying characters, I can't be an actor."

Kabir Singh, also featuring Kiara Advani, is slated to release on June 21.

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