This Shahid-Kiara starter is one of the best remakes in the longest times
Negative truly attracts. Telugu blockbuster Arjun Reddy has been extremely influential and loved, equally. When the same director Sandeep Vanga decides to remake the film for Hindi audience, you already know there is something to watch out for. Kabir Singh in all its honesty and sincerity is gruesome, raw, and at times, very cruel- not only for the characters in the protagonist’s life but also for the audience. Get it straight and plain- here is a hero you won’t like. You probably won’t relate to him. You’ll disgust him, he’ll put you off. Literally, you’ll hate him. But still, he is your hero. That said, that in itself is the biggest beauty of the film.
An extraordinarily brilliant final year medical student Kabir Singh (Shahid Kapoor) is smitted by a first year sweet and vulnerable student Priti Sikka (Kiara Advani). What comes in between their chemistry is his unbeatable angst.
Vanga’s story is simple at its core. A simple decent medical student falling in love and eventually ruining himself. While the idea isn’t something to jump at, it’s the screenplay that hits a six on every ball. A not-so-unique idea transformed into a film that ultimately becomes attractive is what Vanga deserves applauds for. The film here negates the very idea of a hero (that films are used to portraying since 100 years). Here the hero isn’t an ideal man, never even tries to become one. He is gray (at times plain black), something that’s very rarely been done in Bollywood.
What is interesting in the screenplay is that there are plenty of situations where you will definitely have ideological differences with the makers because of the characterization, including that of supporting cast.
One thing to note here. This isn’t a film for all audiences alike. You might not like the film if you don’t fit into that particular chunk of audience. The film here asks you to be in a zone and surrender. At times, it becomes too much to ask for from the audience. But the film has been crafted in a way that you require to understand the characters psychologically rather than emotionally. Here you may not find some characters (especially Kabir Singh) resonating with your self. And that’s the only reason why he is charming.
The film doesn’t move in a linear pattern, serving for fair visual variety and you get a mix of emotions while watching the film. As much as the characters, the audience will be exhausted too. With all of this, the film remains a very different affair from what the audience of Bollywood is used to watching.
There are moments in the film where Kabir is out rightly rude and extremely awful, so much so that he even slaps Priti. These are the moments where you would want to slap him instead for doing what he does. But that’s the honesty with which the character is written and eventually played by Shahid, with all his grit and determination.
The way characters are written with some inherent mannerisms given to each, is what makes the film a wholesome entity. Every character is written with so much thought (except for the leading lady to some extent) that you just can’t stop adoring them and their arc. Given the arc, the film would have made a little more sense had the director presented the ending in a different way than what it is.
After this one, try asking top 3 films of Shahid Kapoor as an actor. Kabir Singh would surely be there, irrespective of the kind of audience. He is so good as Kabir that you hate him the moment you see him going astray the first time. Not only is Kabir angry, emotional, delusional among many other things, Shahid with his exemplary performance (even in the parts where he’s a decently indecent medical student) makes you hate him to the core. While the makers must be credited for sketching a character so effective, hats off to Shahid for playing it so convincingly. Also, it rarely happens that in a remake, one appreciates the actor other than the original one. Right after the trailers, Shahid was praised as much as Vijay Deverakonda (Arjun Reddy actor), proving his worth in every scene of the film.
Kiara Advani is vulnerable, naive, and makes the most of her character. Her character could have been written smartly giving her scope to have a say in the plot and contribute to the cinematic feel of the film. Advani however puts her best foot forward never disappointing you. In fact there are scenes that belong to her more than other actors including Shahid.
Arjan Bajwa is also very good lending tremendous support. You like watching him on screen. Suresh Oberoi as Kabir’s father contributes effectively to the narrative. Anurag Arora as Priti’s father leaves an indelible mark on your minds.
Nikita Dutta in a small role is okay. Soham Majumdar steals the show as best buddy Shiva. He is so good that you would want to have a person like him in your life.
While the songs by an army of composers don’t carry a great recall value, they have been hits, for one. Secondly, they add immense value to the plot giving the drama the much needed flow. The songs majorly play in the background and lift the mood of the film very impressively. It’s intelligent of Vanga to use the songs to the best advantage here. Background score by Harshavardhan Rameshwar is nicely put to use and caters to much effective storytelling in terms of receptivity of the audience.
Santhana K Ravichandran’s camera is marvelous, to say the least. Going perfectly in sync with the plot definitions, camera does half of the job. The shots and angles used to accentuate characterization is also brilliant. There are some indoor scenes, where through impeccable use of lighting and framing, you are indulged in the story more than the writing itself. Art direction by Abhishek Poogalia is also very carefully and thoughtfully done giving you a visual extravaganza.
Editing by Aarif Sheikh is mind-blowing. The film does magic with the transitions and cuts it makes. The flow in the narrative is highly appealing. The film in fact can be watched once only to critically observe and learn from the editing.
Thankfully, Arjun Reddy is remade in Bollywood. Thankfully, by the same director. And thankfully, it’s Shahid who plays the title role. The film challenges the conventional norms of story-telling and the portrayal of hero, where it can be further used as a reference point. It’s a film that must be watched and felt by all for its cinematic quality. One of the best remakes to have been made in the longest times, it has a freshness of it’s own and heart of the original. Beware of the hard hitting content. The film isn’t for all.