Kabir Singh and Arjun Reddy aren’t the same people: Shahid Kapoor
Shahid Kapoor and Kiara Advani, stark opposites of their onscreen personalities in Kabir Singh, their upcoming remake of Arjun Reddy, open up about their characters
Ever so fashionably dressed in a floral jacket and ripped jeans, Shahid Kapoor caught up with us in Hyderabad to promote his upcoming film, Kabir Singh, directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, who also directed the cult Telugu original the film is based on, Arjun Reddy. Quite in contrast to the character he plays in the film, Shahid is calm, composed and confident about the film which is set for release on Friday. Kiara Advani is at ease too, as she sheds light over her character.
Excerpts from the conversation:
What were your first impressions of Arjun Reddy?
Shahid: Someone told me about this film and when I watched it, I was pleasantly surprised by the tonality of it, and with how real it was. Arjun Reddy, as a character, has an amazing graph and it didn’t feel like I was watching a film in a different language because I could personally connect to it and I was emotionally affected by it.
Kiara: I watched Arjun Reddy when it came to Amazon Prime and I was blown away! I became a fan of the film. When I found out that it was being remade in Bollywood and that I was being considered for Preeti, I was excited about the opportunity.
Arjun Reddy has garnered cult status down south. Any apprehensions about remaking something this celebrated?
Shahid: Usually when a film is considered for a remake, it is based on box office collections. But sometimes, the question is whether a film should be remade or not. This was a film that I personally connected to. My first question was whether the same filmmaker was making it because I didn't think anyone else could make it. The film felt like a personal interpretation of the story and the character. I did not think another point of view would do justice to it. Of course, there were fears, but I think good films must travel through barriers of language and culture and be about emotions.
There’s no Arjun Reddy without Preeti, and I’m sure it’s the same for Kabir Singh. Kiara, what did you feel was the challenge in reprising the character?
Kiara: Preeti Sikka is nothing like me in real life. I am very expressive and vocal. Preeti’s loyalty to her love blew me away. She also speaks in silences. She is a nuanced character who likes to rein her emotions in and express through her eyes. There were scenes like when Kabir gives Preeti an ultimatum; they get so intense that it drained me emotionally. I would sit on the bench several minutes after Sandeep called cut because that’s how much the story affects you.
Would you date someone like Kabir Singh?
Kiara: (laughs) Sure, I would love to date someone who loves me as much and as passionately as Kabir Singh!
The Telugu original faced criticism for glorifying toxic masculinity and how almost-suppressed Preeti comes across in the film. Was this criticism taken into account?
Shahid: There was a certain equation that the characters shared as a couple. It is natural to their background and personalities. We have to be able to tell stories of all character types. We have to be real and show life as it is. If we get technical, I guess we won't be able to make too many films. Having said that, there were certain additions that were made taking into account the regional and cultural backdrops of Delhi and Mumbai. On the whole, it's the same film, but the actors are different and their interpretations and personalities are different. Kabir and Arjun might be related, but they aren’t the same person; Kabir Singh had to come alive, acquire his own personality and individuality.
The raw approach that Arjun Reddy took was new to the Telugu audience which played an important role in its success. However, it isn’t a novelty to Bollywood, given there have been films like Dev D and Udta Punjab.
Shahid: I watched the film as an audience member and I found it to be fresh and real. And I have done those films! I believe it is all about the interpretation of what the artistes bring to the table. It’s all about expression. See Kabir Singh! Then I think you will agree with me.
Kiara: This is a story that people everywhere will relate to. It’s the love story and the emotions of both Preeti and Kabir that speak in the film, and that is all we intend to showcase.