Dear Men, Please Don’t Let Kabir Singh Convince You that Women Like Dominating and Possessive Lovers
If you like a woman, please ask her permission before you decide she is your 'bandi'. Don't just blindly follow Shahid Kapoor's Kabir Singh.
Image courtesy: Twitter
During the promotions of Kabir Singh, since everyone already knew the story of the Telugu original Arjun Reddy, Shahid Kapoor was often asked why he chose to play a character that is so blatantly patriarchal, misogynistic and sexist. Shahid justified his choice by saying that he has the guts to portray a flawed character, unlike most actors.
Kabir Singh is flawed, alright. Heartbroken, yes. But justified? Hell, no. The problem with this character surfaces right at the beginning. You see a sex-starved Kabir desperately looking for a woman to sleep with. He is so out of his mind that he points a knife at a woman who refuses to take off her pants for him.
The beginning is designed to shock you, and establish Kabir as this eccentric, demanding and selfish man, who cannot prioritise anything and anybody beyond his own needs. He goes to the hospital, where he is a reputed surgeon. His staff is petrified of him, and keeps his drink ready. As he is putting on his scrubs, a nurse comes and stands behind him in the locker room. In an incongruous move, he turns and chases her while unzipping his pants and the nurse quickly runs away.
He is pining for his one true love, so he refuses to look at other women as more than just means to fulfill his sexual desire. He rejects any expression of affection from any other woman – there is only one thing he wants from them. Justification? He has no emotions left to invest in anyone anymore.
The woman he loves becomes his 'bandi' from the moment he lays his eyes on her, even when she is married to someone else. He does not propose, or ask her out on a date. He instructs and she needs to follow. Consent be damned!
The fact that she gives in eventually is even more incredulous. Preeti is happy to have him stand guard as she speaks on stage, because why should a woman be capable of shutting down audience members trolling her? She is also incapable of anything other than shedding tears when outsiders forcibly put Holi colours on her. Bollywood has glorified the man who fights for his woman's honour for years, but can the woman be given the agency to defend her self-respect, for once, please?
In a scene that reeks of sexism, objectification and male dominance, Kabir decides that Preeti will sit on the front bench in class and befriend only fat women, because - hold your breath - 'fat chicks are like teddy bears... good-looking girls and fat chicks make a deadly combination'.
The makers ensure Preeti is the perfect image of an obedient, Indian girlfriend. While dropping her to college one day, he says, 'Dupatta theek kar lo.' I shudder to think what he would have done if she chose to wear something more revealing than cotton salwar-kameezes all through the film.
When her father strongly opposes their wedding, Kabir demands she talk to him like a woman, when he himself never let her do so in front of him. She keeps pleading with him to let her stay for two more days at the end of his college final year, but he shouts at her to shut her up, because he doesn't have the emotional bandwidth to deal with the separation.
Kabir gives Preeti a six-hour ultimatum to choose between him and her family. And as Preeti later says, he has absolutely no understanding of whether the deadline is realistic, or how difficult the situation at home might be for her. He makes all the decisions in the relationship, so this call is also his, despite Preeti begging him to listen to reason.
In the beginning, Kabir says he is not a rebel without a cause, but he is definitely violent without cause, especially with Preeti. She is slapped, physically struggled with because she needs to be punished for her father's rejection of Kabir as his son-in-law. The film does not show what Preeti goes through when her boyfriend creates a ruckus right outside her wedding mandap. There is no honour in creating a scene and demanding in public that the woman you love drop everything and run away with you, just because you didn't have the patience to wait for her to adhere to your ultimatum in the first place.
A lot of Kabir Singh's antics are supposed to be funny, like the scene where he chases the maid because she has broken 10 glasses. And people in the theatre, including women, do laugh. Because patriarchal conditioning runs deep into our psyche. And in Kabir's as well. He is supposed to be a righteous and honest man, and liberal too, in some ways. He has no qualms accepting another man's child as his own, as long as his 'bandi' returns to him. He is a weird mixture of contradictions, but no woman would like to be the doormat for this unpredictable hurricane.
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