Sexist, misogynistic and toxic! Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani starrer Kabir Singh was slammed for glorifying a flawed character. However, the film catapulted into the Rs 100 crore club within five days of release and as of today, it is the highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2019 with a box-office collection of over Rs 300 crore.
To give you a quick overview of the plotline, Kabir (Shahid Kapoor) falls madly in love with Preeti (played by Kiara Advani), a fellow medical student. Eventually, they break up and Kabir's anger management issues lead him to his decline. He dives headfirst into alcohol and drugs as he battles self-pity and rage.
From receiving major flak from critics to dealing with an official complaint filed by a Mumbai-based doctor, the film has struggled with accolades.
Director Sandeep Vanga lashed out at critics who slammed the film and called them “parasites who are the real threat to the film industry”. He feels that the way critics have 'attacked' the film is unjustified and only proves that Bollywood hates him, “Probably they (critics) never experienced love in the right way."
And now, actor Shahid has finally spoken about the negative response the film received. In an interview with a leading daily, Shahid defended the film saying, "The fun of being an actor is when you get to play someone who is far removed from your real self. In real life, I could never be like Kabir Singh in any possible way. I’ve never been afraid of playing characters that would be disliked. My drug addict character of Tommy Singh in Udta Punjab was also quite deplorable. I feel that people should walk out of the hall loving a performance, not the character. One needs to, therefore, make bold choices. For a star who is otherwise liked and loved, it’s a big thing if people watch a character on screen and wonder what the hell he is doing. It’s a huge compliment for me if people disliked Kabir Singh. To be able to lead people into a willing suspension of belief is the biggest victory for a film."
On being asked what he feels about critics stopping audiences from watching the film, the Jab We Met actor said, "See, when Kabir Singh was made, it wasn’t with any propaganda in mind. We were not trying to propagate something. It was a reflection of things that happen. Of people that exist. Of behaviour that’s common human behaviour. You see these things actually happen around you. The intent was to show it how it is. The prerogative to watch, not watch, like, dislike lies with the viewer. It takes a lot of courage to do something like what we did. I recently saw a High Court ruling that told the Certification Board that your task is certification, and not trying to censor. You’ve given an ‘Adult’ rating to our film. This means that people who will watch it would be people who can vote, who can get a driving license, who can decide things for themselves. So I don’t think anyone can be in a privileged position to tell an adult what they can watch and what they can’t – what they must watch and what they mustn’t."
He defended the character by saying, "There are many layers to him. Some layers are deplorable and terrible. And some layers are actually beautiful. The layer of unconditional love, of love in which you are ready to destroy yourself, was actually a very beautiful layer. The layer of violence – and I never saw this as misogyny- because Kabir Singh’s violent streak was not towards any particular sex. His aggression was inherent in his personality, it was not gender-related. If people view the film in totality and not get stuck with two-three scenes, they’d see that his aggressive behaviour was across the board. So I frankly felt that the criticism was a bit misplaced."
He further added, "We were always honest, right from the very first promo of the film that it’s a fictional account of a very flawed character. There is no protagonist or antagonist in the film. Kabir is the protagonist, he is the antagonist. So all the issues lie within him. We were never trying to be politically correct. It was always a straight-up account of a person’s life. It might be refreshing for people to want to watch a film that’s raw and bare. Why shouldn’t a film like that be made?"
The Mausam actor took a subtle dig at Sanju too. He said, "There have been films in the recent past which had characters exhibiting similar traits but no one really picked on them this way. To be candid, Sanju had a scene where the guy is sitting in front of his wife and saying he has slept with over 300 women. No one picked on it the way they went after Kabir Singh. And this is not to say that I didn’t enjoy Sanju. I thoroughly did, because I didn’t watch it to see how people should be, I watched it to see how that character’s life is."
Well played, Shahid!
Reportedly, Shahid has been approached for the Hindi remake of Nani’s Telugu hit Jersey and he has demanded a fee of Rs 40 crore for the project after the massive success of Kabir Singh which is also a remake of a Telugu film titled Arjun Reddy.
That's quite a fee hike!
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