Kabir Singh, a film that has been discussed, debated and criticized for its toxicity, from the first day, starring Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani, is about to touch 250 crores at box office, despite of getting a bunch of negative criticism. The film has been criticized and debated for its portrayal of the male protagonist, Kabir. He is egoist, arrogant and embodies toxic masculinity. At some point it was excused for being a realistic character with flawed personality.
But recently, in an interview, the director of the film, Sandeep Reddy Vanga tries to safeguard his film with some more toxicity. He says, “If you can’t slap, if you can’t touch your woman wherever you want, and if you can’t slap, you can’t kiss, you can’t use cuss words, I don’t see emotion there.” And this floods our emotions and rage.
Firstly, let us get this straight, a man hitting a woman or vice versa, in the name of love is not done. Love does not give anyone a free ticket to hit their partners, this kind of behavior is toxic and not “romantic”. The director also defends the film by adding, “…if you don’t have the liberty of slapping each other, then I don’t see anything there.” Well that is not true; I can see toxic mentally here.
Secondly, the people supporting this mentality are those who think marital rape does not exist. You cannot touch your women wherever you want just because you “love” her. How many classes we need to make the concept of consent vivid and clear like crystal??
In his bizarre interview, the director also says that people who have criticized the film, are only seeing the misogyny in it and overlooking other aspects of the the film. He claims that the women who said they were uncomfortable with the film, had not experienced real love – “I feel that they were never in love, probably they’ve never experienced it in the right way.” Well if “true love” means getting slapped by the partner, then thank god cupid didn’t hurl his arrows at us.
The supports of this attitude may say that the character of Safina, from Gully Boy played by Alia Bhatt was also aggressive in her approach towards the boyfriend. Well, that was toxic as well. Her hitting another girl for her boyfriend does not highlight her love, it just underlines her insecurities and toxical behavior.
Not only this, but we have seen many movies where woman slaps the man, and we were not bothered at all by those scenes, we did not even paid much attention to it. But this one slap in this film is just one instance of whatever is wrong with this movie.
The problem lies in the glorification of toxic masculinity entrusted in the film and how this film justifies and romanticise this kind of behavior. The film recites the years old mindset, “boys will be boys” or “men will be men”. Maybe its time to hold them accountable for their toxicity and actions. We should stop teaching the girls that “their man” can misbehave with them or slap them as a sign of love, it is not love, it is just violence and a crime.