Kabir Singh movie review: Shahid Kapoor at the top of his game

This film is a fascinating character study that should resonate with those willing to overlook its occasional clunky narrative.

Director: Sandeep Reddy Vanga

Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Kiara Advani, Arjan Bajwa, Suresh Oberoi, Kamini Kaushal, and Adil Hussain.

Sandeep Reddy Vanga's 'Kabir Singh', is a Hindi remake of the director's own 2017 Telugu blockbuster 'Arjun Reddy'. Shahid Kapoor steps into Vijay Devarakonda's shoes - in a wrenching portrait of a man whose life has fallen apart. Messy hair, untidy beard, gulping down alcohol straight from the bottle and puffing on cigarettes - much like the original, this Shahid Kapoor-starrer follows the same plotline.

The film is about a short-tempered and brash surgeon Kabir Singh (Shahid Kapoor) who instantly falls in love with medical college junior named Preeti (Kiara Advani). Kabir is a hot-headed but brilliant medical student while Preeti is naive, innocent girl. Kabir goes on a self-destructive rampage when the he is prevented to marry Preeti by her orthodox family. As the story unfolds, Kabir's deep anger management issues are revealed.

Shahid and Kiara in the still from the film. Shahid and Kiara in the still from the film.

Director Sandeep Reddy Vanga tunes the first half slowly, allowing the romance to simmer in torment and triumph. He introduces the conflict followed by Kabir going on a rampage of self-inflicted pain holds the second half of the film. It is a fairly predictable story where, frankly, very little happens but Vanga transforms it into a gut-punching drama. To utter surprise, every shot, every scene, every camera angle and every line from 'Arjun Reddy' is replicated in 'Kabir Singh' - so on that front, the film lacks novelty, besides, of course, the setting and the language. Though not quite perfect, this film certainly delivers on emotion, sharp dialogue and toxic energy.

The film is a fascinating character study of a man on the edge of a nervous breakdown without going off the deep end into a farce. It is darkly funny, in self-deprecating way, but it also doubles as a cautionary tale. There's enough humor seemlessly planted in the narrative to allay the seriousness without diminishing its importance. The director captures the truth and rawness of the acting from his lead stars. The film benefits from a simple, strong and straight-ahead storyline; it offers us various perspectives, such as glimpse into Kabir’s life prior to the present day, via flashback. It's narratively bit uneven but the occasional lapses of focus are rescued by Shahid Kapoor's riveting lead performance.

Kiara Advani-'s look in Kabir Singh.Kiara Advani in Kabir Singh.

Shahid Kapoor’s Kabir is the kind of complicated male lead we rarely see onscreen; a frustrating and reckless mess with nothing to lose. He is an alcoholic, a drug addict, womaniser and completely self-destructive. He is not easy to root for. His character changes dramatically every scene. But Shahid admirably captures Kabir's volatile mix of naivety and stubbornness, vulnerability and resilience. Kapoor's absorbing portrayal of a boozy surgeon on a downward spiral is just terrific. After 'Kaminey', 'Haider', 'Udta Punjab', Shahid's yet another grey shaded character is a glorious addition to his filmography. Kiara Advani's character is endearing, at the same time it displays innate strength. She is utterly believable and natural as Preeti. Arjan Bajwa gives a sincere performance as Kabir's elder brother and one wonders why such a good actor is so underutilised in Bollywood. Veteran actress Kamini Kaushal, who plays Kabir's sensitive grandmother, adds a much required warmth into the story.

While the ending seems a bit hurried, it is Kapoor who shines throughout. Vanga displays an engaging, emotionally resonant piece of filmmaking. 'Kabir Singh' brings romance back on the Hindi screen - intense, passionate and heart wrenching. The film is a stirring account with brilliant moments, bravura performances, strong emotional quotient and addictive music, this one's an absolute treat for the romantics.

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