Kabir Singh is the official remake of the 2017 Telugu blockbuster Arjun Reddy. Playing the titular role, Shahid Kapoor is a surgeon who becomes self-destructive after his girlfriend, Preeti (Kiara Advani) is forced to marry another man.
Writer-Director Sandeep Reddy Vanga brings to us an intense love story that starts when a senior medical student, Kabir R Singh, falls in love at first sight with his junior. Kabir is a popular guy on campus, academically strong but with anger management issues.
“I am not a rebel without a cause,” he tells his dean (Adil Hussain) when questioned about the brawl at an inter-collegiate football match. Strongly attracted to Preeti, Kabir pursues her with the same aggression. As we see their love story unfold, you won’t understand why this passive, ever-silent girl meekly follows him when he asks her to skip classes or to ride a bike with him. At one point, he even kisses her without her consent and takes the onus upon him to find her a ‘fat reliable’ friend, he thinks is fit for her. Considering it is a one-sided attraction, the entire sequence looks like a subtle form of ragging.
It is only after a Holi incident when Kabir fights and confesses his love for her, that the girl finally responds to his advances. She finally speaks in the film and they end up making love soon after.
This love story gets ugly when the girl’s father refuses to the alliance as they belong to different castes. Circumstances lead to her getting married to another man and therein begins Kabir’s downward spiral in life.
Post interval, Kabir drowns himself in alcohol
and substance abuse but he is also is a competent surgeon, finishing
over 300 surgeries in a year.
Sandeep Reddy Vanga follows a non-linear storytelling format and we seamlessly keep travelling between the past and the present at ease. He is successful in bringing us a hero who is heartbroken, helpless and yet stylish throughout – Telugu cinema sensibilities at its best.
As a young man who thinks all his actions are justified, Shahid Kapoor manages to get the shades of anger, madness and insanity that Kabir’s character demands. He channels the beast we saw while he played Tommy Singh in Udta Punjab. As Kabir, however, he delivers a restrained, measured performance, without glorifying the free-spirited, dark character.
Kiara Advani has the simplicity required for the role but lacks the vulnerability and innocence in the initial scenes – something the original film nailed with Shalini Pandey. The script allows her to shine in the second half when she sheds her timidness and transforms into a woman who stands by her convictions. But these moments are few.
The film excellently uses heavy rock background music to slide into scenes to showcase Kabir’s insanity, his unsound state of mind – basically spoonfeeding us emotions in case we miss the cue.
The character of Kabir’s friend Shiva (Soham Majumdar) deserves a special mention as he is Kabir’s only support system as his world keeps getting grimmer. Suresh Oberoi and Arjan Bajwa fill their roles with great ease as father and brother.
Although Sandeep Vanga does a scene-by-scene adaptation of Arjun Reddy in Kabir Singh, the new take fails to be as impactful as the original. The former also had a long run time, but as a viewer, we didn’t mind it as the characters, sequences and emotions were raw.
At 2 hours 52 minutes, Kabir Singh works only because of our leading man, Shahid Kapoor. He breathes life into the character of Kabir Singh and showcases a range of emotions from passion, hatred and rage bordering on lunacy. Kabir Singh will definitely click with the youngsters.