The director of Kabir Singh, who also made the Telugu original Arjun Reddy, is not an entirely happy man. Although the film has set the box-office on fire, it has also been widely criticised for glorifying toxic masculinity. In an interview with Anupama Chopra of Film Companion, Sandeep Reddy Vanga went on a rampage against critics who had called out the problematic politics of his film, even making personal attacks.
In the interview, Anupama asks Sandeep what he feels about the criticism, and the director dismisses it as "pseudo". When Anupama asks him to explain why, the director says, "I feel it's pseudo because...you know...when you're deeply in love, deeply connected with a woman and vice versa, there's a lot of honesty in it. And if you don't have that physical demonstration of...if you don't have the liberty of slapping each other, then I don't see anything there."
Yes, this is a direct quote, people. Mr Sandeep Reddy Vanga believes it's not true love if the people concerned don't slap each other around.
He then bizarrely went on to claim that the women who'd 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."
Comparing the criticism he received from Telugu reviewers to the Hindi ones, Sandeep claimed that all the Hindi critics were hung up over the misogyny and had not said anything about the other aspects of the film. Referring to film critic Rajeev Masand as a "fat guy who reviewed my film", Sandeep said that while he'd given him only 2 stars, the audience has given him Rs 200 crore. He then went on to "establish" the difference between "describing" and "objectifying" by saying "fat" was "description" but that if he spoke about Rajeev's body parts, that would be "objectification". Don't worry, we're just as confused as you are.
Sandeep claimed that critics like Rajeev and "women like this" (who slammed his film) were the real threat to the film industry and not piracy. Sandeep also said that since he'd worked with rape victims in a hospital when he was 24 years old, his film couldn't be promoting rape culture and that those who'd accused him of it wouldn't even know the spelling of "rape". Clearly, it cannot be more evident that the man does not know or understand what rape culture means.
Sandeep then claimed that a filmmaker's intellect is directly proportional to the crowd's, and that this is why Interstellar didn't work in India. Since Kabir Singh has raked in Rs 200 crore, we wonder what this says about the intellect of the filmmaker in question and the audience, but never mind.
When Anupama asks Sandeep why he didn't find the beginning of the "love story" problematic, when Arjun Reddy/Kabir Singh calls out Preethi from class and marks her as his property, Sandeep said he doesn't see the difference between this and calling 2000 people for a wedding and putting a ring on a woman's finger. Umm, other than rape culture, we guess Sandeep has never heard of the term "consent" either.
Asked if he didn't think such representations of "romance" could make men believe that they can exert ownership over women they barely know, Sandeep claimed that since he'd grown up watching gangster films and didn't become a gangster, this wouldn't happen either. And oh, he also said "intimidation has its own charm" - in case you're STILL wondering how in the world Preethi fell for a complete jerk like Sandeep's hero.
Elaborating on the "romance", Sandeep said, "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 cusswords, I don't see emotion there." We don't know about you, but we're certainly feeling several emotions right now.
Sandeep also claimed that he'd thought that Bollywood and the CBFC (for certifying Hindi films) were more open than the south but that he'd discovered this was not the case (!!). Because objecting to misogyny and moral policing are one and the same, hain?
We will leave you to discover more wisdom from the man himself.