While the original gave Tollywood a wakeup call and got the film maker laughing loud and lewd on the way to the bank, the Hindi ‘mutatis mutandis’ narrative has disappointing footfalls in spite of finding in Shahid Kapoor a perfect replacement for Vijay Devarakonda.
To the uninitiated, the story (Sandeep Vanga) deals with the angst filled space of the protagonist who suffers a huge personality disorder.
The adrenaline filled doctor who cannot manage his anger is the center of this story which is constant celebration of violence. He is not confessedly a rebel without a cause. At medical school he is the ‘angry doc’ in the making till he runs into fresher Preeti (Kiara Advani) – bland to a fault and perhaps design. Emotions run high as cupid strikes.
The usual sports rivalry is laced by Kabir and his dare devilry. This defuses the system, the pattern and every form of societal restrictions. To the Telugu film viewer there is absolutely no novelty and every scene is an encore of the original. Punch included. You would believe that the remake would have worked on the raw edges. However when the ‘row-edges’ are the strength of the narrative, you end up replicating the success paradigm. Cinematically that is an area of concern. It reflects a thought emanating from a film maker that his product is perfect. Worse still, if he is willing to compromise his errors at the cost of success. The success of Arjun Reddy is the drawback of Kabir Singh. One aching question: why is Kabir, Arjun not Vincent Van Gough? The narrative comes perilously close to Theo, Vincent’s brother too.
Look at the huge conflict (a contradiction). An angst filled, angry alcoholic suddenly turns into a guy with a hyper active conscience. This is where our cinema often falls short of – honesty. It refuses to keep people human. It makes them heroes. That simply jars with the emotional honesty that is Kabir. It hurts the fabric of the central character only for an integral attempt to tie up the loose ends. Good art is about thematic honesty. It is here that the maker faults. The attempt to tic the loose-ends and get all ready for the mandatory group picture is that predictable abyss that is lit with photographic light and artistic dishonesty.
Mention must be made of the music director/s (Mithoon, Amaal Mallik, Vishal Mishra, Sachet-Parampara and Akhil Sachdeva) who tone the film wonderfully. The cast is honest. Special mention must be made of Arjan Bajwa, Soham Majumdar (as friend Shiva). While Oberoi looks a little out of touch, Kamini Kaushal has cinematic moments to celebrate. Kiara Advani comes into the skin of her character in one rare moment. However, flaws, riches, ups, downs, highs, lows and through more is the brilliance of Shahid Kapoor. Yet again, this master actor is true to his character and enjoys an outing with his brilliance. To a cinema lost to the flamboyance and farce of Khans, Singhs, Kumars, it is this brilliance that is being missed. If we are honest to the craft of the cinema, wake up and recognise the sheer brilliance of Shahid Kapoor.
Somewhere towards the end of the film, the Dad tells Kabir “Things will change”. The director obviously does not believe in it. Obviously the audience will and bow in honour of the greatness of Shahid.