Story: ‘Kabir Singh’ is an official remake of the Telugu blockbuster 'Arjun Reddy'. The film charts the journey of a short tempered doctor Kabir Singh (Shahid Kapoor), whose obsession for his girlfriend leads him on the path to self-destruction. Can he come out of the dark world that he creates for himself?
Review: Meet Kabir Singh – the kind of boyfriend, who is aggressive, obsessive and would go to any extreme for his girl. He is all in or nothing at all. As a senior and a topper in one of Delhi’s most reputed medical institutes, he wields immense power. Thanks to his lethal anger issues, there are few who would want to mess with him. By his own admission, he becomes a rebel with a cause as soon as he sees his junior in college Preeti (Kiara Advani). For him, it is love at first sight. But this is far from a meet cute romance, with mush gush and the regular romantic toppings. It immediately gives Kabir’s unsettled and self-destructive streak a reason to manifest. Thus, begins the real journey of his character into the deep dark abyss of chasing the love of his life. Shahid’s performance lets the character get away with a lot of vices like womanizing, drug addiction, alcoholism and brash male toxicity.
For some, his actions and recklessness might seem problematic, but that is evidently his character sketch, and Shahid plays it with brutal honesty. Shahid Kapoor completely surrenders himself to the extremism of Kabir Singh. The powerhouse performer plays each and every shade of Kabir with such passion and perfection that his conviction makes you root for him, even when he is far stretched from being the picture perfect lover boy.It is only because of Shahid’s strong performance that many of his characters’ excesses seem justified. His character is deeply misogynistic, abusive, reeks of misplaced sense of male entitlement - exactly the kind of man that our society reeling under patriarchy and sexist stereotypes need to call out. His psyche and behaviour are dominated by his irrepressible anger and desperate need to be in charge of the women he is obsessively in love with.
In terms of screen space, no one comes close to the leading man. For most part, film’s leading lady Kiara remains demure and is left to use silence as her only tool for performance. With such limited scope, she never really gets a chance to shine. Shahid’s trusted friend Shiva (Soham Majumdar), on the other hand, gets ample opportunity to show solid support even when his friend is way out of line.
The film’s conflicts in the second half start becoming repetitive. The pace of the film becomes an issue with a runtime that is undeniably long. Thankfully, the realism and build up to Kabir’s deterioration is well executed and so is the practical support that he gets from his family. Writer-director Sandeep Vanga Reddy, who also helmed the Telugu original, makes his hero vulnerable but not weak enough to feel sorry for.
The remake stays mostly true to the original. However, the original had better chemistry between the lead actors, hence the love story seemed more effective. Also, Kabir Singh is a tad more humane than Arjun Reddy while being equally intense. He always shows up looking dapper, even in the most dire conditions. So it isn’t a surprise that the most pretty girls, including a heroine Jia (Nikita Dutta), falls for his unabashed charm. Film’s music compliments the narrative with its soulful renditions in the background.
While 'Kabir Singh' is a welcome change from stereotypical love stories, this kind of love affair needs some getting used to. If you can generally accept the fact that human beings can be flawed (sometimes deeply flawed), you will be able to stomach this rebellious story of love with extreme madness, often lacking rationale and reason. Through his protagonist, Sandeep bets all his cards on his leading man, making sure you either love him or hate him, but you can’t ignore him.
Our overall critic’s rating is not an average of the sub scores below.