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The 90s generation grew up idolizing Raj of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Two decades later, we are left wondering what to make out of a Kabir Singh.
Kabir Singh represents the new-age antithesis of the hero (Sanju was another such guy) – one that glorifies toxic masculinity, guttural violence and abuse against women, among his other qualities such as womaniser, alcoholic, drug addict, etc. Wearing a doctor’s coat or crisp shirts does not make it look any better.
Kabir Singh became famous and went on to be a chart buster at the box office which is a dangerous pointer towards what men and their choices have become today.
What is love if you can’t hit or violate your partner freely, says the movie. Sadly, the heroine Preeti is depicted as a feeble, sheep-like character with no voice or mind of her own (once, such women were called doormats).
Even more scary is the validation of regressive social mores by the hero; if men held ownership over their ‘bandi’ ( I’ve come to hate the word by now) a slap defines love better than a kiss…love just died, 2019.
Love has always been masculine in our films with tales about male machismo and heroism; nobody ever asked what a woman wanted of love. Any wonder the mushy and ‘wimpy ‘Raj of the 90s was replaced by a self destructive alpha man, Kabir Singh? Do women really see a lover in Kabir Singh or is it some perverse idea of love with the gentrification of a Kabir Singh?
Did someone miss the Stockholm syndrome? The movie shows a girl trapped in an abusive relationship with no peers, friends or family. Is there a lesson here for women in love with the wrong guy for the wrong reasons, unable to break free of the entrapment, or are we sending a wrong message to women – endure all for love? Whatever happened to sanity, Preeti?
Generations of women lived and died in cloistered patriarchal settings, taught to wait upon men in families, eat after them, fuss over and fetch water, because men never knew the way to the kitchen, never called a husband by name, handed over their salary and jewellery to in-laws… these were women who were never seen or heard in their homes, if they couldn’t fight their battles or fix the men.
So when the Prems or Rajs of the 90s showed up as guys who bore with the heroine’s fuss and temperament, who fasted on a karva chauth to please her while facing the wrath of patriarchy and persevered to bring about a change in mindsets, it was seen as deliverance, by girls with fathers from hell like Simran.
A Raj was what women missed – a man who heard, cared or respected their choices – a sad reminder of their own nameless existence. So, how then did we resurrect the same men like KS whom we dreaded for their misogyny and deep rooted patriarchy that once stifled and snuffed the life out of us? #Feminism just died.
Did we go wrong in raising our girls if they chose to go with a wrong guy like Kabir Singh? Did we fail in upholding positive values for our boys and men, their space taken up by the likes of Kabir Singh?
When Preeti, so utterly, so mindlessly threw herself away in the hope of finding love with a depraved man, it raises some serious questions if we failed to empower our girls to stand up against such men.
Finally, did our kids miss out on real love? For a generation of boys and girls who are taught what love feels like by Bumble,Tinder, OkCupid and Facebook (or WhatsApp for lesser folks), did they just miss out on the real emotion called love in the maze of emoticons of red hearts? Will they ever know what ‘love’,’ respect’ or ‘consent’ for their partners feels like if they never heard a love story or even read one, because, they don’t make those anymore?
The Prems and Rajs have gone away, replaced by the Sanjus and Kabir Singhs, a reflection of our society, which depicts our stoic acceptance of chaos, when we don’t seem to raise better men.
If the movie celebrated masculinity and what love feels like from a guy’s point of view, Kabir Singh is certainly not the guy any sensible women would want to take home, love or no love.
Bollywood can keep their toxicity and misogyny and women are not buying any of it anymore. At the end of it all, I believe that Kabir Singh remains an unfulfilled male fantasy of a world where a man can do exactly as he pleases and never be asked questions about it. It is a dangerous idea propagated, because women aren’t sheep even if the men continue to be wolves.
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