Shahid Kapoor’s latest romantic drama, Kabir Singh, is a remake of the Telugu blockbuster hit Arjun Reddy. Directed by the same director, Sandeep Vanga, it was evident from the trailer itself that the movie is a near exact copy of the original.
Both the movies are touted as a tale of romance and passion, with a message to support love – irrespective of caste or religious differences. However, the message – right as it maybe – gets lost in the way the movie is built and presented.
Despite expert direction, a decent performance by Shahid Kapoor, and a nice soundtrack, the movie is not ideal.
Here we’ve picked scenes from Arjun Reddy – that have also been shown in Kabir Singh – to show exactly where the movie goes wrong.
1. He threatens a woman when she refuses to have sex with him.
Right at the start, he threatens a woman for not having sex with him. Yes, he later realizes he is wrong but that does not remove the fact that his first instinct was to threaten her for refusing sex.
When this scene played out in the hall during Kabir Singh, people actually laughed out loud. And that is EXACTLY why the movie’s execution is problematic.
2. He publically puts ice in his pants – because he is too horny.
When he is unable to have sex, he rushes to the road and asks his friend to set him up with a girl – a request his friend categorically refuses. Consequently, Kabir decides to stuff ice down his pants – in the middle of the road – to control his sexual urges.
3. He mercilessly hits a student from another college during a football match and claims it to be an act of pride for his college.
Right from the start, he is shown to have anger management issues. And yet he states that he is not ‘a rebel without a cause’. He also disrespects his professor but claims that his own actions were driven by pride in his college. And that apparently dissolves him of any blame over his actions.
4. Even before he knows Preeti’s name, he barges into a classroom and warns his juniors to not rag or approach her, because she is ‘his girl’.
5. He also remarks to his juniors that they will have ‘more chances’ with other girls to rag and/or approach romantically, or otherwise. Again enforcing the ideology that women are akin to properties.
6. He commands a ‘healthy’ girl to sit with Preeti and orders them to be friends. Because he claims the only way two girls can be friends is if one of them is pretty and the other is healthy.
We’re not even paraphrasing here. He explicitly informs a girl in the class to sit next to his love interest Preeti because he thinks the only way two girls can be friends is when one of them is pretty and the other is ‘healthy’. Because healthy girls are like ‘teddy bears’.
7. The very first time he talks to her, he straight away kisses her.
And then gives her the ‘assurance’ that no one watched (though everyone around does), as if that alone is a concern in the given situation.
8. He threatens Preeti’s parents and siblings and gives her an ultimatum for their relationship.
When Preeti’s parents refuse to get her married to Arjun, he first insults her father (read: anger management issues).
He also threatens to throw a flowerpot at her sister when she interrupts their conversation.
He then threatens to hit Preeti too, while giving her an ultimatum that she has only 6 hours to convince her parents about their relationship.
In Kabir Singh, the protagonist goes one step further and actually slaps her, while giving her the ultimatum.
Not only are ultimatums harmful to any relationship, it also shows how little understanding or concern he has of the position he is putting Preeti in.
9. Kabir puts himself under physical harm and then proceeds to interrupt Preeti’s marriage.
Kabir proceeds to get blind drunk, and then consumes morphine, that naturally leaves him comatose – all this before the ‘6-hour ultimatum’ is even over. And this is why, when Preeti tries to contact him – in person – he is not available. And yet, when Preeti gets married, he interrupts her marriage, creates a ruckus, and continues to blame her.
10. Arjun and Preeti make out on a moving bike, and naturally, have an accident. And their friends applaud them for this rather than question their actions, let alone reprimand them.
11. Just because his house help breaks a glass while cleaning, he runs behind her, threatening to hit her.
12. He guides nurses to perform an operation when he is intoxicated to a level that indicates alcohol poisoning.
He is on his day off and he does refuse at first. But apparently, the hospital has no other doctor to help with the accident. And when he’s sued for his actions, he accepts the charges but also claims that he is ‘proud’ that no patient died while he was on duty. The very premise that such a heavily intoxicated doctor was allowed to perform surgery- even guide one-is not only illegal but also sets an extremely bad example.
He is shown to be a high-functioning alcoholic, but the movie glorifies his actions, rather than showing them in a completely negative light as it should be. Basis the movie, rage, entitled behaviour, and flouting social and moral conduct is considered to be the birthright of men – or at least this particular man.
The greater problem with the way the movie has been presented – especially the conventional happy ending – is that people fail to see the self-destruction that the protagonist experiences. They only view his ‘passion’ and ‘heartbreak’, not his misogyny, aggression, or general rudeness. Yes, creators have every right to present flawed characters – but not to put them on a pedestal.
The problem with the movie is not that it shows an ‘impassioned’ romance, but the fact that it glorifies abusive personality traits and romanticizes harsh behavior. And such a treatment sends an incorrect message to people, especially to the young, impressionable minds.
All images are screenshots from Prime Video.