wogma rating: Don't bother (?)
A spoilt brat throws a 3-hour long tantrum. Kabir Singh made me angry, furious–the film and the character. Didn’t like it, and didn’t like him. And not because the film isn’t done well. In fact, maybe because it’s done very well–the performances, the character-writing, the music are all good, yet the film is infuriating.Read more
Kabir Singh’s trailer does make you go “wow” with its intensity and Shahid Kapoor’s nonchalant self-absorbedness. Once you let it register though, you realise that the text on screen describe him to you and don’t let you figure his character out through the story and situation. Next, given the film’s title is the name of the male lead character, as obsessed as he might be about the lead lady character, the movie is going to be about him.
Even so, the trailer has enough intrigue to make me look forward to the film.
Kabir Singh releases on 21 June 2019.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Kabir Singh has been a film of firsts for me. It’s the first film that made me go, “Why is this a film?” And I have disliked many films. But I have never questioned why it was made. Someone, somewhere had a vision, and they had the conviction to turn it into reality. I never felt like questioning their faith in themselves. Kabir Singh is also the first film that had me fuming in the first few minutes and that feeling never quite leave me. And I have seen sex-comedies disgusting enough for me to hide my face while leaving the theatre, just in case someone I knew saw me getting out. Sure, it could just be that the disgusting, toxic character is written so well that my reaction is so strong. But, I refuse to fall for that argument. A loser protagonist stays a loser, even if the film is made well.
It just could be possible that the
filmcharacter could have been tolerable if the film were an hour shorter.
So, let’s start from the beginning. Our hero is a great goalkeeper, an awesome surgeon, and of course, he is handsome. He has a bit of an anger problem, but how does it matter because not only is he unapologetic about it, he is rather proud and righteous about it. Even if it means chasing a domestic helper down the road because she broke a glass. Yeah, I get it. He is just that type of a man, what to do ¯_(ツ)_/¯.
He also has this thing, when he falls in love at first sight, he owns the girl and can kiss the girl before she says her first word to him. Yeah-yeah-yeah, it was on the cheek. I don’t like using the phrase, “needless to say”, but it ought to be needless to say, that that is still not okay. And this is just an introduction to his self-absorbed, selfish behaviour. The warped brain gets weirder and weirder as the film progresses. He does a surgery without an anaesthetist around, that kind of weird.
Sure we are also shown that he loves the lead lady, he cares for her. He tends to her when she hurts herself. He weeps, like “boys are not supposed to”, when he is hurt. He asks a lady to “be a woman!” So, what are we supposed to do? Say “thank you?” Sure, I like my films to have grey characters, but this one is actually evil parading around as good, with a loving family. Oh, and he has friends so loyal that they would willingly destroy their own family. The definition of love, any kind of love, is so contorted here that grey characters cannot be seen as lovers, friends, parents, or siblings.
Of course, I questioned myself, even though Kabir Singh doesn’t, “am I over-reacting?” I tried to rationalise it too. Maybe, I am reacting like this because I am worried that my teenage children might be influenced by pop-culture that normalises self-destructive behaviour. But a man’s regressive, possessive entitlement–masked under a thick layer of empowerment–is high on the list of unacceptable attitudes.
I realise that half this review might end up being about the character, but if the film’s title is the name of the character, that is what they’d expect from the audience too, right? Love him, hate him, feel sorry for him, but they want you to react to the character. I guess then you try your best to accept that this is a story of these two characters. Take it or leave it.
To that end, the other departments come together reasonably well. Shahid Kapoor knocks it off as a first-rate a*$&h@!&. Kiara Advani aces as the strangely meek girl who succumbs to pressure before the fact and is full of strength after the fact. You want to feel bad for Shiva’s loyalty owing to Soham Majumdar’s sincere performance. The rest of the cast chip in as required.
A loser protagonist stays a loser, even if the film is made well.
The direction has other nice touches too. There are stretches without music that work well. It has a few decent, even if misplaced, lines too. But then there is unnecessary drama and addition to length via slo-mo. It just could be possible that the
film character could have been tolerable if the film were an hour shorter.
Maybe that way scenes with “obese people are loyal” or an instruction from a senior student to his junior, “from today she is your friend” and another one from a boyfriend to his girlfriend “chunni theek karo” would not have made the cut. Maybe. Oh, but most of the audience seemed to be enjoying at many such “dialogue”s. So maybe not.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...Kabir Singh is the classic middle-finger film. It’s hero is so consumed by his anger he can’t see how angry he makes others feel with his insensitive behaviour. At the end we are left feeling as bereft as the people who stand by Kabir. They don’t deserve this. But we do.... full review
Thumbs up, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, KABIR SINGH is a well-made love saga which has tremendous appeal for the youth. The deadly cocktail of adult theme, lovemaking scenes, hit music, taut script and bravura performances would surely bring audiences in hordes to the cinemas.... full review
Thumbs up, by Tushar P. Joshi, Bollywood Life : ...Kabir Singh is an ace up Shahid Kapoor’s sleeve and a treat for his fans. Watch it if you want some intense romance laced up with knock-out performances.... full review
Thumbs up, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...For those who have watched Arjun Reddy, Shahid Kapoor's Kabir Singh might not completely rip your heart out. But, it will definitely leave you with a heartache instead. It will make you want to believe that 'true love conquers all obstacles and defies all storms'.... full review
Thumbs up, by Vishal Verma, Glamsham.com : ...Beautifully shot with top production values, Santhana Krishnan Ravichandran's cinematography is a delight to the eyes during light and brighter scenes and a dark cautious warning during the high volatile and dark scenes. Afzal Usman Khan's action is real.... full review
Thumbs up, by Manjusha Radhakrishnan, Gulf News : ...Put a ring on ‘Kabir Sigh’ if you are in the mood for watching a love story that’s wonderfully wicked and warped.... full review
Thumbs up, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...The songs are a mixed bag, with some (“Kaise Hua” “Yeh Aaina” and the basic but well-written “Tujhe Kitna Chahane Lage Hum”) being strong in words as well as in music. However, the high-pitched vocals in the first and third songs as well as in “Bekhayali” and the remaining songs and the Punjabi overdose in words jars yet again. Romance and heartbreak need mellow tones, and even high-pitched angst need not sound raucous. What’s more, the rock guitar removes the last vestiges of melody from even otherwise melodious singing and compositions, while the nerve-wracking high octaves are not pleasant at all.... full review
Thumbs up, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Kabir Singh gives Shahid Kapoor another chance to prove himself yet again of how brilliant an actor he is. It’s not Shahid who shines alone, it’s a team film where everyone perfectly contributes to the narrative. Highly recommended!... full review
Thumbs up, by Gayatri Nirmal, MiD DAY : ...Shahid Kapoor is outstanding in the film. He is, undoubtedly, one of the most underrated actors in Bollywood. This story is quite an unconventional romance, which deviates from the regular stories offered by Bollywood. Kabir Singh isn't glorified like the regular Bollywood hero. Love him, hate him but you can't ignore him. It's definitely not a film you can watch with your family. Your partner or friends are the perfect company to watch Kabir Singh with. Kabir Singh will make you laugh, cry and love, and do it all with a lot of passion.... full review
Thumbs up, by Priyanka Sinha Jha, News18.com : ...Reddy’s direction is impressive. He knows his material well and keeps it on a tight leash, never skipping a beat. Let’s face it, the love story genre is well loved but it is also one of the toughest to crack. Reddy despite a brooding despairing protagonist takes things many notches higher and makes it one helluva trippy ride.... full review
Thumbs up, by Joginder Tuteja, Planet Bollywood : ...Endearing – this is how Kabir Singh turns out as an overall experience too. It has its flaws and that too predominantly due to the central character in the thick of things. However this is what makes it real as well, due to which the film manages to stand apart from the crowd.... full review
Thumbs up, by Gaurang Chauhan, Times Now : ...Cinematography is good. The music is melodious and amazing. You can read my thoughts about the soundtrack of the film here. And the background score is one of the best this year, full marks to that. It is, apart from Shahid's performance, the highlight of the film.... full review
Thumbs up, by Ronak Kotecha, Times of India : ...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.... full review
Thumbs up, Zee News : ...The back ground score and music complement the situations and mood of the film. 'Bekhyali' and 'Tujhe kitna chahne lage' stand out. Overall, the film is engaging and worth a watch.... full review
So-So, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...In short, as mentioned in the review of ARJUN REDDY, KABIR SINGH too has the lead actor Shahid Kapoor simply excelling in his portrayal of a troublesome surgeon and it largely remains a film of Shahid and Sandeep Reddy having its own downers. At the same time, it’s also not any great love story, more emphasizing on the suffering than the romance, lacking the expected magnetic pull and logical characterizations.... full review
So-So, by "ASHISH RANA ", Catch News : ...Kabir Singh is an intense love story having Shahid Kapoor on his top notch. If you have loved films like Devdas, then Kabir Singh is a new age Ruthless Devdas. If you can watch back to back songs with having pop-corn in your hands then you should go for it.... full review
So-So, by Suguna Sundaram, cineblitz : ...Whilst the film may do well in the South and in the North of India, metro cities’ urbane audiences might find it off- putting. For sure it’ll do business. You should watch it for Shahid Kapoor alone. And to learn what not to do and be in a love relationship.... full review
So-So, Filmfare : ...At 172 minutes, the film is too long by modern standards. Thankfully, Vanga has gone for a non-linear mode of storytelling and going back and forth in the timeline does keep the viewer engrossed. Imaginative use of background score, especially when it comes to highlighting the hero's violent nature, too keeps the attention focussed.... full review
So-So, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...It’s the kind of valiant, thankless, workhorse effort that goes unnoticed because the dysfunctional romance is given prime importance. With almost every word and action, this film feels gratuitously violent, deliberately misogynistic, and distasteful, is abusive towards women and even tries to romanticise wilful toxicity.... full review
So-So, by T J Reddy, fullhyd.com : ...Simply put, Kabir Singh, the movie and the character, are akin to Kabir Singh's motorcycle of choice, The Royal Enfield. It is a gas-guzzling, hard-to-handle, needlessly heavy, inherently noisy and exorbitantly expensive piece of work that has been loved by the masses because of its glossy marketing. It is a MAN's bike DAMN IT! And we will love it even if it takes us and the planet to hell in a handbasket.... full review
So-So, by Kamaal R Khan, Khaleej Times : ...Kabir Singh could have one of the best love stories, but it has turned out to be an above average film. It's the overdose of drugs, alcohol and the smoking scenes that spoil the film to a considerable extent. In spite of the flaws, Kabir Singh can be watched once, especially, if you haven't watched the original Arjun Reddy.... full review
So-So, by Mahwash Ajaz, Masala : ...Kabir Singh is a good watch mainly because of how well the main character is balanced by Shahid Kapoor. Vanga doesn’t lose sight of the journey and doesn’t forget that amidst all the existentialist dilemmas and song placements, he’s telling a modern tale of a toxic male which cannot be justified but has to be told in an entertaining, compelling way. And that it does!... full review
So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Cautionary messages warn one of the dire consequences of excessive smoking and consuming alcohol. But when you have a lead with a chiselled body and sharp mind abusing his body in a decidedly clinical manner, seeing is believing. About time, we get our Devdas’ to dangle beer bellies and flaunt symptoms that point to the inevitable end.... full review
So-So, by Manisha Lakhe, Now Running.com : ...A shot by shot remake in Hindi of the Telugu hit film Arjun Reddy, this film stays true to the tale of an obsessed lover. Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani are lovers in medical school but when she's forced to marry someone else, the brilliant doctor goes into a downwards spiral of alcohol and drugs. The misogyny is very difficult to swallow for 174 minutes. But the acting and the relationships between the characters make this film a decent watch.... full review
So-So, by Giridhar Jha, Outlook India : ...The 174 minute film might appeal to the multiplex going young audience but it could have been pruned by a discernible editor at least by half-an-hour to make a racier love story without harming the flawed character of the hypersensitive Devdas of our times.... full review
So-So, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...From treating women like toys, trampling all over their feelings and then acting like a wounded martyr and misunderstood genius wronged by the world, Kabir Singh rounds up every foolish male's ultimate fantasy. Lack of rules can be refreshing, but to watch a sicko getting away after ticking every wrong in the book just rankles.... full review
So-So, by SHILPA JAMKHANDIKAR, Reuters : ...Advani is appropriately demure and fresh-faced as Preeti, but like the other characters in this film, she is an accessory used to prop up the god-like status of the lead. “Kabir Singh” would have been a better film had it knocked its protagonist off his pedestal and examined him for the flawed person that he is.... full review
Thumbs down, by Anna MM Vertticad, annavetticadgoes2themovies : ...The naming of the hero in Vanga’s Hindi remake seems to be a bow to the poet-saint Kabir, and to underline the point, in a voiceover in the opening scene the fellow’s grandmother (Kamini Kaushal) recites one of Kabir’s dohas. I do not know whether to laugh or cry at this desecration of the great man’s writing. Kabir Singh and its Telugu forebear Arjun Reddy must rank among the most disturbing examples of the obsessive stalker hero being glamourised by Indian cinema.... full review
Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...It is disturbing that men in the audience laugh when Kabir is being an uncontrollable beast, and enjoy scenes of women being stalked and harassed. Shahid Kapoor is all swagger no nuance; Kiara Advani’s Preeti is a total cipher. It’s a shame a film like that gets made in 2019--or 2017, when the ghastly original was released.... full review
Thumbs down, by ARNAB BANERJEE, Deccan Chronicle : ...The rest of the supporting cast including Sham Majumdar, Arjan Bajwa, Nikita Dutta and Suresh Oberoi are good, but wish there was a little more of veteran Kamini Kaushal — both in terms of her screen time and substance-driven grandmother’s role.... full review
Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...Given that awful people make for great stories, Kabir Singh should have been the greatest film ever made. But it isn’t. Far from it, actually. Because Kabir Singh is a terrible man, a monstrous lover, a thankless friend, a futile son, an ungrateful brother…but he isn’t a tragedy. Or at least his creator doesn’t think he is. He isn’t the first hypermasculine jerk to be romanticized on screen and he won’t be the last.... full review
Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...Kabir gets more repulsive by the scene, but other characters thinking he’s wrong doesn’t help when the creators don’t agree. A cautionary tale can’t end with the villain getting what he wants, while Kabir Singh rewards his sins with a happy freeze-frame. The best lines come from the boy’s grandmother, played by Kamini Kaushal, who wisely says, “Suffering is very personal. Let him suffer.” If only.... full review
Thumbs down, by Piyasree Dasgupta, Huffington Post : ...When their epic romance hits a roadblock after Preeti’s father refuses to let him marry her. Singh falls into a violent, self-destructive spiral and goes around drinking and shouting and howling at everything that moves. And people still like him. It’s like they are suffering from a strange case of ‘acche abs aane wale hain’.... full review
Thumbs down, by Ananya Bhattacharyal, india today : ...The music of the film is outstanding. Songs like Bekhayali, Kaise Hua and Tujhe Kitna Chahne Lage are downright chartbusters.... full review
Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...Kapoor takes the movie and tries to run with it. But he has been a hero at the centre-stage for too long; his responses are too practiced, too familiar. He feels too old for this role, and his dissolution never feels as sharply realized as the one he managed so superbly in Udta Punjab.... full review
Thumbs down, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...There’s a bang-smash quality to Vanga’s direction which at times lifts scenes above the crude material. When Kabir’s elder brother tries to talk him out of his funk and the two end up scrapping, the situation's a cliché, yet effective. Had Preeti shown some fight too, this might have been a different film, less in thrall of the angry doc. Instead, it takes nearly three hours for Kabir to admit that he has a problem, whereupon he’s immediately rewarded. “Go to the depth of anything and you get zero," we’re warned early on. In this case, it’s absolutely true.... full review
Thumbs down, by Pankhurie Mulasi, Movie Talkies : ...Music is the highlight of the movie, it’s very soothing and songs go with narrative. Cinematography is good, screenplay should have been crisper and dialogues.... full review
Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Kiara Advani is trapped in a role that requires her to be no more than a sounding board designed for periodic ego massages for the male protagonist. Veteran actress Kamini Kaushal, playing the hero's sagacious, sensitive granny, endeavours to inject some warmth into the story. Unfortunately, Kabir Singh is beyond redemption. Strictly for Shahid Kapoor fans.... full review
Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...Just like the man of the title, the director seems stuck in a moment he doesn’t want to get out of. Kabir Singh reimagines the Indian hero archetype in interesting ways, but its inability to even consider the flaws in its leading man’s romantic outlook is its undoing. Is masochism the flip side of machismo? Both movies seem to agree, but they never ask why.... full review
Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...The entire film, just like the original, is dependent on and propelled by the performance of the star at the centre. And however good Shahid Kapoor might be in living the trauma and angst of the character, you still can’t get away from the sickening male entitlement.... full review
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Well, don't get your hopes too high. Given all the intensity, it's basically just a tale of a narcissist wherein the woman unintentionally gets objectified. Have seen the original movie and the few scenes in the trailer looks exactly same! Would love to know your take once the movie is out.
@Sonal, yeah I am hoping against hope that it won't be that bad. But, am glad that it looks like good performances are on the card.
Meetu, one of the most raw and best reviews you've written till date.. You know I like your reviews, hit the nail right...
Thank you for the honest review. The movie is not good. It's an awful movie, and you can tell it's made by someone who blames all his failures on a woman. I don't know what's wrong with the other critics in India, but appreciate your honest review.
@Raj @Roy Thank you!
@Roy Thankfully there are enough reviewers calling it out too-Raja Sen, Rajeev Masand, and the reviwers at Film Companion, The Wire
I've followed your reviews from years, but this is my first comment here. Thank you for one of the few bad reviews of the film. Another was Sucharita's on Film Companion, and she's getting trolled like anything. You can't even criticize a movie these days without rape threats. :( The sad part is that I absolutely love Shahid Kapoor, and he's done such great work with grey characters in Udta Punjab, Haider and Kaminey. But this one isn't grey - it flat-out GLORIFIES VIOLENCE AND SUBJUGATION OF WOMEN. Period, With badass music in the background and the entire theatre cheering and hooting when the woman is slapped or kissed without consent. The huge success of 2 such movies scares me.
@Pomita Thank you. Yes, it is difficult to shake the film out, 10 days later. Disturbing of the wrong kind, to put it mildly. Thankfully at least, I wasn't trolled.
Apart from all the Misogyny & inordinate length, I suspect Shahid's performance is getting 1-track. It looked like a continuation of Udta Punjab & Haider character & expressions. Need to vary.
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