The tale of a tragic lover never gets old. Cinema is known to glorify characters who have loved and lost in love. One of the reasons the audience connects to these characters is because empathises with their pain and angst. Two years back, a Telugu film called ‘Arjun Reddy’ released and it shifted and turned a lot of things in the industry. The film had a very fresh treatment and had a certain rawness to it which was lapped up by the audience in a huge way. ‘Kabir Singh’, its Hindi remake, has been helmed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga who helmed the original and going by the promos, one believed the remake was more or less a faithful adaptation of the original.
Kabir Singh (Shahid Kapoor) is the brightest student in the medical university he studies in. His professors vouch for his brilliance and his dedication towards his profession. But, there is one problem. Kabir suffers from severe anger management issues and often gets into trouble because of that. One such instance leads him towards deciding to quit college. However, he changes his decision as soon as he sees Preeti Sikka (Kiara Advani), a young woman who has just joined the college. It is love at first sight for Kabir and soon enough, he lets Preeti know that he has feelings for her. Preeti reciprocates his feelings. Kabir and Preeti’s love for each other intensifies with time and they become almost inseperable. That is, until, circumstances draw them apart leading Kabir onto a path of self-desrtuction.
As the promos indicated, the director has stayed faithful to the material he utilised to make the original and have not tried to make major changes while making this one. Most of the shots, in fact, are exactly similar to the ones one saw in the original. Those who had seen the original and wanted something drastically different to see in the remake would be disappointed. But if you were wishing the film to mirror the original, you would have little reason to complain about. There are a few minor alterations though. In the original, Arjun and Preethi start living-in in a beach house. Here, Kabir gets Preeti into her room in the boys’ hostel when she suffers from an injury. This change has actually been incorporated very smartly. The film is almost three hours long but is consistently engaging just like the original.
Now, let’s talk about the negatives. The film is about ten minutes shorter than the original. To make that happen, the makers have chopped off a few scenes/shots which make a couple of sequences (like the one where Kabir meets a homeless man who helps him find an accommodation for the night) come across as abrupt. ‘Arjun Reddy’ was called out for being a misogynistic, sexist and insensitive film by a certain section of the audience. A few of their concerns were valid and when they see ‘Kabir Singh’, they will find the same issues here. A few of those scenes are actually designed to make Kabir come across as a flawed character which, one guesses, is fair.
Shahid Kapoor breathes life into the character of Kabir Singh and brings out all the extreme emotions in the character effortlessly to the fore. Kiara Advani looks spellbindingly beautiful in a simple, non-glamorous avatar and lends the right amount of vulnerability and innocence to Preeti. Though she has limited screen time in the second half, she leaves a solid impact and makes it loud and clear that she is the next big thing on the block. Nikita Dutta has a very good screen presence and leaves a huge mark in a cameo. Soham Majumdam, as Shiva, gets ample scope to perform and he makes the best of the opportunity. He delivers a first-rate performance. Arjan Bajwa is very good as Kabir’s elder brother and his performance makes you wonder why he is not seen more often on the big screen. Suresh Oberoi looks adequately dignified as Kabir’s father.
Sandeep Reddy Vanga has not really tried to anything different from what he did in ‘Arjun Reddy’, which probably is not a bad thing. His writing and direction is very good. As an editor, he falters a bit as a couple of scenes, in the second half, have been abruptly edited. The music (Sachet-Parampara, Vishal Mishra, Amaal Mallik, Mithoon and Akhil Sachdeva) is good, though most of the songs have been used in bits and parts. “Bekhayali” (Sachet-Parampara) is the most popular track of the lot and makes a strong impression visually too. The background score (Harshavardha Rameshwar) is very good. The film has been shot (Santhana Krishnan Ravichandran) very well.
Shahid Kapoor has not delivered a clean, solo hit since ‘Jab We Met’ (2007) but ‘Kabir Singh’ is all set to break the spell. His younger audience might not be able to watch the film (it has been granted an ‘Adults Only’ certificate) but the youth is going to lap up the film in a big way.