T-Series and Cine1Studios present “Kabir Singh”
Produced by: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Ashwin Varde and Murad Khetani
Directed by: Sandeep Vanga
Written by: Sandeep Vanga & Siddharth-Garima
Music: Sachet-Parampara, Amaal Malik, Mithoon & Akhil Sachdeva
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Kiara Advani, Soham Majumdar, Adul Hussein, Kamini Kaushal, Suresh Oberoi, Arjan Bajwa, Dolly Mattoo, Sp.App.: Nikita Dutta and others
It’s a dubious hat-trick of sorts after “Kalank” and “Bharat,” and a double-bill for co-producers T-Series: like those movies, they have made a film that could have been cut by 30 minutes easily to heighten rather than dilute the impact. The film is a remake of a very fresh romance in “Arjun Reddy,” and unlike most South remakes, is a love story and not replete with action.
Top student and now surgeon Kabir Singh (Shahid Kapoor) has a mercurial temperament when he feels something is incorrect. Prone to outbursts of temper and violence, after his retribution to cheating rivals at an inter-collegiate match, he is told that he will be suspended, and if unwilling for that, will be removed from the college.
Kabir chooses the second option as he does not feel he has done anything wrong but retracts his decision when he sees Preeti (Kiara Advani), a new entrant in his medical college, and falls hook, line and sinker for her. Being a bit of a college bully of sorts, he is further encouraged when he comes to know that she is the daughter of his father’s (Suresh Oberoi)’s employee’s brother and the latter has requested that he take care of her.
Happily, the docile Preeti responds, and so they soon fall into all-encompassing love, which continues even when they part ways and Kabir moves to another college for advanced studies.
They cannot stay without each other even there, and when back in Mumbai because Kabir’s elder brother (Arjan Bajwa) is to wed, he goes to Preeti’s house to invite her. Unfortunately, they are found kissing on the terrace by Preeti’s father, and from that time, Kabir is told to stay away. His patent anger resurfaces, and he does and says things he should not, even to Preeti. As a result, Preeti is forcibly married to someone else, which Kabir comes to know on the day of his brother’s marriage.
Shattered, Kabir takes to drugs, is thrown out of his house, and is later also stripped of his medical license. When his ally-at-heart, his grandmother (Kamini Kaushal) dies, he returns and promises his father that he will improve. A vacation fails to make things better, and soon, Kabir spots Preeti, pregnant, in a local park. Will that complete his destruction, or will he forget her at last?
The film’s major drawback is its length. I was told by a colleague that there is negligible difference between the original and this remake, but for a pan-Indian sensibility, especially in 2019, the duration of the film and all its convoluted melodrama needed to cut by at least 30 minutes. There are clearly dragging sequences even in the first half (and the second), and editor Aarif Sheikh, who could have made this a fresh and classic love saga, goes awry, or is compelled to do so.
That said, the dialogues are hard-hitting, but an overdose of the ‘F’ word will alienate a lot of family audiences, even as the overdrive of kisses may be accepted. The hero’s open invitation to an actress who has been his patient to sleep with him whenever he feels the ‘need’ may also be frowned upon for its depiction of a woman (and possibly even Kabir’s love and the prime reason he is missing her!) as a mere ‘sex object.’
Happily, the medical references are accurate, and there is also an expose of how a negligent doctor’s counsel can put a spin on the case when he is guilty. The “upper thorax” subject is also subtly humorous, but sadly, this bold humor misses the target unless it is a doctor or medical student watching the film! But what looks ridiculous is Kabir smoking like a chimney all through even in college and hospital, and operating as a surgeon with a shaggy beard. This is one area the filmmakers should have been very particular about.
Technically sound, the film has overloud background music (Harshavardhan Rameshwar). The direction is assured, and the few typical Telugu film touches of exaggeration and weird narration are barely noticed in the overall context.
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.
If “Kabir Singh” is a revelation, it is for Shahid Kapoor, who is so into his character we begin to love him and yet detest his weakness for always surrendering to impulses and the buffets of life. Kiara Advani is endearing when she shows spirit, but her docile self is also so well-performed that it becomes irritating! We liked Arjan Bajwa as the brother, Soham Majumdar as Kabir’s inseparable and selfless crony, and Nikita Dutta in her sparkling cameo as the actress. The rest are alright, but Kamini Kaushal has a pointless role and does not make any mark.