Kabir Singh (Arjun Reddy): A Literary [-ish] Analysis

Kabir Singh (Arjun Reddy): A Literary [-ish] Analysis



so I think the most bizarre thing about this Kabir Singh controversy is how rare the term satire is being used like I don't know if I heard it even once in this 50 minute film companion discussion and I think that's a reflection of how difficult it can be to apply our critical thinking to things that make us feel uncomfortable let me give you an example back in 1991 the world was introduced to a very controversial book called American Psycho it attracted so much protest that selling the book was banned for years in Germany and parts of Australia in fact to this day you can't sell this book in Australia unless it's shrink-wrapped like a Playboy magazine or a sandwich nine years later followed by more controversy we got the cult classic film that we know and love today American Psycho starring Christian Bale as a psychotic serial killer named Patrick now currently in 2019 it's taken for granted that American Psycho is practically a piece of feminist canon on the surface it's a satire on the materialism of 80's corporate America but at bottom it ridicules the extremes and excesses of masculine aggression misogyny and danda fication or in today's terms toxic masculinity however remember all that controversy that I just mentioned about the release of American Psycho well that controversy was based around all the violence and misogyny that occurs throughout the story which was kind of understandable because Patrick does some pretty horrifying things to women especially in the book but just because some things were triggering and disturbing doesn't change the fact that the story is a satire and so the protesters either didn't catch the satirical voice of the story because they were too busy being disgusted and outraged or they knew it was satire but felt that the writer was simply hiding his misogyny within a satire of misogyny what now there are a million examples I could give you of how depiction is not endorsement but I'm sure you can come up with examples on your own plus at this point you might have a question or two that you really want to ask and they sound something like is Kabir Singh really a love story that satirizes male fantasy and aggression yes told through the perspective of someone who probably has a personality disorder yes isn't Sandeep just a mediocre filmmaker who's beer in real life in this movie is simply a way of expressing his erotic hatred for women No are you suggesting the Sundeep is not an idiot that he might understand movies better than me a certified rotten tomato film critic a certified film critic yes are you just trying to defend Kabir Singh because you love it I'd read both movies somewhere between an 8 to 8.5 I like it but I don't love it is bhardwaj india's best movie critic yes favorite stupid baby rick so you're saying that by combining themes from satires like American Psycho and Goodfellas while borrowing from Shakespeare and Hindu mythology the director wanted to create a layered story that unlike the typical modern movie can be understood on more than one level of analysis yep that's exactly what I'm saying let me explain by the way I'm Gianni and there's a spoiler warning okay before I begin I want to mention that this is just going to be about the first act of the movie not only because it's what all the controversy is about but the first act is where all the different genre elements are thrown at you the rest of the movie is much easier to follow given the traditional hero's journey structure which is how it should be also from here on I'll mainly be referring to Arjun instead of Kabir for a few reasons one of which is that most of the footage I have to work with are from the former so here we go Arjun Reddy is about arjun an alcoholic surgeon who's heartbroken that his ex-girlfriend Preity has married someone else right away were presented with a similar theme from American Psycho where Arjun views women as mostly objects no different from a designer suit or a business card this lady's dress is a blanket and the girl that says booty call is simply listed as the fiancee of a patient following that which is where the controversy begins we are shown in a clearly tongue-in-cheek manner how cool Arjun is with his over-the-top drinking and smoking and this girl clearly loves it she loves arjan's over-the-top style so much that she's trying to get laid on the same day that she's meeting her fiance and she later claims that she doesn't want to spoil her fiance's mood as if she really cares so already the movies hinting to us that just like in American Psycho this world and the people within it are not normal in addition this universe we're in is also taking a special interest in Arjun watch how as soon as his behavior becomes the lights go out then as he escalates the lights magically come back on making him come to his senses this shows that the story is clearly aware of Argent's transgressions because no writer would ever engineer a causal chain like this by accident so after fracture case fiance kicks Arjun out were introduced to Argent's friend Shiva through a funny phone conversation that further reminds us Arjun is being satirized you know in case we forgot already after Arjun cools off we meet his housekeeper and just like the girl we first met she's not quite normal either in fact she's really kind of a dick she ridicules Arjun for talking to his dog knowing that the dog is a sentimental reminder of origins ex which is clearly meant to be an over-the-top insult because we all know that dog owners talk to their dogs let alone pretend that their dog is an ex-girlfriend in addition you find out later on that the housekeeper keeps dropping stuff and breaking them but she only ever drops arjan's drinking glasses which is another indication that this world takes a special interest in Arjun this same invisible God if you will is why Arjun immediately injured himself after chasing the housekeeper around anyway so we're about to see Arjun arrive at work and before he gets there his assistant is preparing a drink for him as if it's a morning cup of coffee while telling the other assistant to be careful about the four-hour operation coming up the irony of that coupled with this awkward attempt at getting a quickie in is clearly indicative of the movies satirical tone so then we get this short exposition of the operation which includes Arjun explaining to the patient how they have to break his leg first in order to fix it which is a reference to how this movie or universe intends to fix Arjun after the operation we get this shot which is meant to be comedic and a reference to Patrick smoking after performing his own surgery next we get a flashback to his med school days where a fight will break out in the middle of a football match but we see how it ends first with Arjun and his friends whom are all doctors ironically cleaning their battle wounds with whisky and just in case the parodic nature of this scene wasn't obvious this girl describes for us what's happening so it turns out the fight started because the Argent equivalent of the rival med school punched Arjun over some relatively polite taunting now look at this fight closely this action scene is not a typical expression of masculine fantasy first of all the partial slow motion and the wide framing really pushes us to notice the bystanders who like us are simply watching this occur and this sort of creates a visual feedback that adds a layer of surrealism when you notice that the guy Arjun is fighting is not fighting back also notice the way Shiva and Vidya are positioned behind Argent's shoulders as if they're the good and bad sides of his conscience Vidya has become speechless and powerless while Shiva is encouraging Arjun to break the guy's face but what's more is this scene in American Psycho is when Patrick slays Paul Allen for having the best-looking business card now this were truly a movie made to glorify the extremes of masculine aggression we would be able to see the damage that Patrick is causing with his axe but since the director a woman named mary harron had the intention of making a satire she decided to keep the frame just on Patrick himself which isolates the rage and a rationality away from the action that's taking place and this has been referred to in a quasi technical manner as the female gaze it's an exaggeration of a natural psychological sex difference in which men tend to look towards effect while women towards ethic okay so following the fight the college dean immediately reprimands Arjun for his behavior and demands that he either writes an official apology or simply leave the school now the response that Arjun comes up with is worth paying attention to for a couple of reasons see the Dean is wondering why Arjun couldn't keep his anger under control in order to protect the pride of the school but for Arjun if there's any school pride to be gained from winning a football match then there can only be more pride gain from winning a fight the reason he gives is that football is essentially a competition of passionate physical struggle so if this is the kind of activity that the school is going to derive a sense of pride from then it would be dishonorable to not have engaged in a true physical altercation now I don't know if Sandeep has read Fyodor Dostoevsky but this sort of high level rationalization for immoral action is exactly what the 19th century novelist is best known for constructing Dostoevsky who's quoted at the beginning of the book American Psycho was really a genius at demystifying what we often mean by evil and one of the hallmarks of Dostoevsky is that he intentionally makes his despicable characters the most rational thoughtful or charismatic people in the story which is why at the end of Argent speech where he chooses to quit the school because he would rather maintain his pride the students stand up in deference for their true leader and that's the first of two points that I want to make about that speech the other has to do with the story called Romeo and Juliet so Arjun is about to turn in his papers for quitting the college when he sees Preeti for the first time and without having said a word to her he decides to stay in school instantly reneging on all that stuff he said earlier about keeping his pride this is almost certainly a callback to Romeo if you remember at the start of Romeo and Juliet Romeo is heartbroken about being rejected by Rosalind he's super emo and all he does is mope around saying stuff like I have lost myself I am NOT here this is not Romeo he's some other way but just like that dramatic speech about pride that Arjun Gibbs Romeo instantly forgets about Rosalind the moment he sees Juliet this was something that Shakespeare intentionally did in order to accurately capture the pure yet stupid quality of young love and as genuine as their love grew to be or as romantic as a double suicide is the plays ability to present such a polarizing yet holistic picture about Romeo and Juliet's relationship is one of if not the main reason why we still study it today and if you would like more evidence that Arjun and Preeti are echoes of Romeo and Julia consider how campy this exposition was which was made even campy er in Kabir Singh on top of that both couples have their first kiss within hours of meeting each other and before you mentioned that Preeti does not kiss back neither does Juliet also both Juliet and Preeti share a similar situation of having to resist their parents decision on who they should marry this meant that Julia was motivated to find someone to fall in love with so Shakespeare had this idea that maybe real love can sprout from cheap love in the way that Romeo was in love with the idea of being in love Juliet was looking for love as a way to defy her parents which I think the same thing can safely be said about Preeti especially considering how she was staring at Arjun first this little nuance though was unfortunately not reproduced in Kabir Singh despite being almost a shot-for-shot remake I think Kabir Singh was meant to be a movie with much larger and louder motions than Arjun Reddy another cool little nuance in Arjun Reddy is when Arjun sees Preeti for the first time this song that starts to play isn't a regular song it's actually a Hindu mantra that invokes upon the Goddess Lakshmi in traditional Hindu weddings the bride and groom are emphasized as the incarnations of Lakshmi and Vishnu and so if the entrance of Preeti symbolizes for Arjun the coming of good fortune then as Vishnu Arjun is providing Preeti with protection and safety which is what he's really doing with the way he quarantines everybody away from Preeti yes it comes off as really weird and regressive but it absolutely qualifies as protection and a couple more things in regards to mythology a part of the Hindu creation myth is that Vishnu is constantly dreaming our universe into reality that I'm pretty sure is what's being alluded to in the opening scene of the film where the director recites a poem with cosmic imagery about universal oneness in addition Vishnu is commonly depicted wielding a mace as a weapon in present time we really have no need for maces but maces do resemble bats which is exactly what Preeti is holding for Arjun after she's harassed during Holi now think about what we're really looking at it might not be apparent because of her subdued personality but Preeti is not looking for justice she wants cold-blooded revenge but also there's a kind of symbolic suggestion being made here that Arjun and Preeti are complimentary of each other it's a lot like how in Jane Eyre all the negativity that Jane would have hypothetically accumulated are suppressed and magnified through Bertha except here we have Argent's explosive temperament counterbalance by Preeti's excessive passivity they each have way too much of what the other one lacks which is very relevant for this scene ladies and girls if your boyfriend said that he wanted to marry you but was too scared to stand up to his parents who disapprove of you yet he begs you to stay so that you argue with his parents for him you better not slap him because that would be inappropriate rather what you should do is speaking of violence some internet commenters have stated that they're still concerned that a hero movie such as Kabir Singh might influence teenage boys to copy some of the awful things that he does now that's an understandable concern I mean if some of those certified film critics couldn't deduce that this movie contains satirical elements how would some idiot teenage boy figure that out well the awful set of behaviors that we see origin and Kabir engaging in is not at all a representation of regular people misbehaving the extreme levels of aggression and substance abuse exhibited by our special heroes are commonly referred to in psychology as cluster B symptomatology and within cluster B is a disorder known as a SPD which stands for antisocial personality disorder often referred to as sociopathy psychopathy which is what patrick has is essentially a far off extension of sociopathy and amongst the professions where you'll find the most Psychopaths and sociopaths CEOs ranked number one which is Patrick and Surgeons ranked number five which is Arjun and Kabir and soon-to-be Aditya more importantly though while sociopaths only make up 2% of the general population they can account for anywhere between 35 to 47% of prison populations and by the way that's Goodfellas playing on the projector in that scene that's playing that's where Tommy who is a psychopath kills a fellow mob member just for making a joke it's probably the most barbaric scene in the movie and I doubt the director left it there by accident but I digress the reason why I'm talking about any of this is because in order to qualify for an ASP D diagnosis you must have had the prerequisite form of a SPD during your adolescent years which is called conduct disorder kids with conduct disorder are the sort of troublemakers or bullies that you're afraid movies like Kabir Singh will encourage and if that's the case then you don't have much to worry about because the sort of kids that would copy Kabir and Arjun are far from regular kids if you know any kids or adults that remind you of Kabir and Arjun and you truly care about the well being of others then try to get them some help because even if they're doing well academically or professionally their internal lives without any intervention is almost guaranteed to have a downward trajectory a SPD and symptoms of a SPD are notoriously difficult to treat because those who had this problem often feel as if there's nothing wrong with them if you'd like more information on a SPD there's plenty of information on the web and I've left some links in the description and that's the end of this video like I said this video was really just about the first act and I'm sure there are a ton of references that I missed but the ones I covered I feel were the most obvious indicators that this isn't a brain-dead movie like some people think it is nor is it really a retelling of Devdas also one thing I'm not quite sure about is I think that the whole morphine overdose thing might have been a play on Romeo and Juliet like what if Romeo never found Julia then he couldn't kill himself next to her so then Julia would have had to marry Paris and then Romeo develops a drinking problem you get the idea anyway I hope you enjoyed this video I'm curious to know what you think I've also left some links in the description on stuff that's related to satire I think the controversy around this movie really shows how uncommon it is as a genre there's a couple of my favorite satirical pop songs that I've put in there one is about being a pop star and the other one is about high school anyway if you've enjoyed what you've seen here then consider subscribing and I'll see you next time you

4 thoughts on “Kabir Singh (Arjun Reddy): A Literary [-ish] Analysis

  1. I realize the introduction of my video suggests that I am saying Kabir Singh falls into the genre of Satire, which is an error on my part.

    What I am saying is that Kabir Singh uses satirical humor/elements of satire, and the failure to pick up on that tone is how critics jump to the conclusion that Kabir Singh is endorsing (insert behavior).

    There's obviously nothing satirical about kabir/arjuns hero's journey, which makes up for 2/3rds of the entire movie. But it certainly had humor that was satirically toned, which is something you find in many stories. Satirical humor is not exclusive to the genre of 'satire'.

  2. Vanga himself does not consider this a satire but a unironic straight faced movie about a character he does not.consider to be an vehicle for satire.
    This makes the intent behind the movie very different from genuine satires where the creature wanted to make satire.

    Secindly the movie American Psychi makes the satire more obvious than the book which is why there are more defenders of the movie version than the book.You cleverly only brought up the book and ignored that the movie did a better job at making the satire more clear and obvious.
    Same with the movie Fight Club which is better than the book in terms of it's satire.
    The video looks like you decided the movie has to be S A T I R E and are trying to retrofit and working backwards to strengthen your conclusion.

    Even Bharadwaj who defender the movie does not consider it satire. He defended it as Byronic/transgressive etc which says that he is fine with the characterization even though it's polarizing cause this is pretty common in art. He's not going "you fools this is obviously S A T I R E "
    Also giving a movie 8.5 does mean that you love it enough so your point about you not being defensive seems moot.

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