Rating 3/5 Stars
This is a tricky territory for sure. Sandeep Reddy Vanga is attempting to tell the tale of a man who is abusive towards his girlfriend, can't control his anger, can't pay attention to what's around him when he's in that fog of fury and loses it completely when crap hits the fan. How do you tell this story beautifully without compromising on cinematic aesthetics while also avoiding to turn this toxic, horrible man into the hero men want to be? Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani starrer Kabir Singh manages to avoid these pitfalls and it's all thanks to Vanga's storytelling and Shahid's impeccable performance.
Kabir Singh, an intelligent, rich, privileged doctor can't control his anger. He wins many times because of this. And he loses many times because of this. Okay, let's be fair. He mostly loses out in life because of his horrible behavior. And that is why the film doesn't glorify toxic masculinity. Because throughout the film, every time Singh acts out or does something horrible, he pays a price. The only time he actually wins at life is when he begins to change his ways. Smartly played by Vanga. While the thrill of romance and the viewer attraction to violence continues to show up at opportune moments, political correctness stays in tact too.
Watch the trailer of the film here.
Kabir, played by Shahid Kapoor, is a character you can't love. Shahid brings his Hamlet angst and his Udta Punjab bad boy energy to Kabir and doesn't let the character become more than what he is. The heroism is always short-lived, the pathos is gently presented, without really justifying the bad behavior. Kiara Advani, as Preeti, has little to do and perhaps this is one of the biggest problems in the film. Her character is mostly passive and only reacts to what Kabir says and does. While it is understandable that it is only Kabir's story, Preeti's life's elements would have added more depth to the ups and downs of the film.
Read the first review here.
Soham Majumdar, Suresh Oberoi, and Arjan Bajwa support the film well and music by Harshavardhan Rameshwar is part rock part ballad, something that signifies Kabir's life well. There are some stunning shots of Kabir enveloped in his own smoke and agony and the cinematography by Santhana Krishnan Ravichandran gives the scene the oomph it needs. So much of it is oomph anyway and it is also well compounded by Aarif Sheikh, the film's editor.
Overall, Kabir Singh is no hero but a story. And while that doesn't absolve the flimsily written female characters or the casual misogyny that you may find peppered in the film, the film does not glorify Kabir's story but actually tells the tale in a stylized, modernized way. Vanga may have been able to successfully initiate the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Bollywood and Tollywood with Kabir Singh. Watch the full movie review on video here.