Kabir Singh and Bollywood’s Unending Misogyny

Samiul Alam
3 min readJan 8, 2020

Once a good friend of mine told me to hate content critically, you have to have to go through the content first. I have read here and there about this movie is the epitome of misogyny but I’ve also heard rave reviews for general populous. When you thinly veil the severe misogyny and abuse with “love”; it’s still misogyny. I took the time out and went through this movie, in its entirety! Oh boy! It was bad and worse in some instances.

In a political landscape of India today where right-wing nationalism is chocking open-minded thinking, this movie couldn’t have come at a worse time. It was a box office hit, because why not? It encourages traditional alpha male stereotype, it reinforces gender roles that do not help any woman in India or the subcontinent in whole. Let’s be honest, Indian movie has a global impact now. Kabir Singh was all everyone talked about for weeks, on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube was plastered with reviews.

I don’t dissect the movie scene by scene but I was to present a few scenes that I remember to be highly offensive to my conscience. One of the first scenes is where he meets this girl to have sex with her when she refuses; he shows her a knife and tells her to undress and comply. The scene is shown in a very comical manner, but in a country where women are raped and burned; this is abhorrent. The protagonist (antagonist more like) lets go of her when he finally gets his sense back. He goes out and puts ice of penis by taking some from a roadside stall, frustrated by his sexual failure. He comes off as an epitome of toxic masculinity.

The way the protagonist and the female lead actor start dating is also so fucked up. He essentially forces her to date him, through weird and unflattering antics. Eventually, as the plot progresses, she strangely seemed like a victim of Stockholm syndrome; she seems infatuated. As stereotypes go, this reinforces the masculinity in real life. “Persistent badgering gets the girl”, this seemed to have been the motto back in the 70s to 90s which emulated in the movies and reality; but now in 2020; we know for what it was all along; harassment and abuse.

Another thing that baffles me is how women who suffer the worst consequences of this culture of misogyny supported and raved about this movie (only a minority). Probably unintentional or even unaware of what this represents, but deeply concerning. I imagine how teenage girls in the subcontinent might assume this is what romance is, this how men are supposed to be. I also imagine how teenager boys would assume this how they are supposed to behave and accept this as the norm. Women are not to be meek in the face of adversity like this and men definitely should not try to live up to this toxic masculinity.

This movie is at the end of the spectrum of the onslaught of misogyny that is portrayed as the norm in Bollywood movies. Even though there is now a breathing space with movies that try to combat this, but the success of this movie is concerning, to say the least. Bollywood movies and their stars are considered gods in the Indian subcontinent. Their influence on society is much greater than any policymaker or law. Stop perpetuating an age-old stereotype, we are much better of without movies like these.