Kabir Singhania – an unusual mentoring story

Do you remember the time you worked for that bully of a boss who treated you and other employees like trash?

If not, you know someone who has worked for such a boss? You do know that such bosses exist, right?

The answer to either one of the first two questions is very likely to be a Yes. If not, the answer to the third is definitely a yes.

Now, let’s call that boss Kabir Singhania.

So this boss bully likes to single out the new and docile interns. This time, because he liked how a particular intern was dressed and appeared subdued. Let that intern be you. Or you can be one of the other employers who has to observe or deal with his behaviour each day at office. Either way, stay in the scene, okay?

Kabir Singhania unilaterally decides that this intern must be his personal assistant. He announces that nobody gets to befriends this intern. He drags along this intern everywhere. He teaches this intern a few things but sucks out the personal life of this intern. The intern is awed by Kabir Singhania’s power and does whatever this boss pleases. The intern learns to admire the boss and treat him with utmost respect. The boss is pleased at his choice.

But the intern’s parents are not pleased that he seems all aloof since joining work. They know of the boss’s plan to move out of India with the intern. They manage to get their son to quit.

The boss now loses his mind. His drinking, drug habit etc which he had kept in control by directing his obsession and addiction on to this intern are now out of control.

He threatens one of the employees to work for him a whole week by cancelling all his family trip, threatening to fire him and destroying his chances at other companies if he doesn’t oblige.

He treats the house keeping staff, especially women, like trash.

He brings a puppy to the office daily and ironically, this puppy is the most well treated living creature in the entire office.

He shows up to office drunk, does drugs while inside the office and drunk calls people from home to make them slog more.

Nobody dares to complain about him because well, he is powerful and inspires fear.

By now, I’m sure you don’t really care how smart, talented or learned he is, right? You don’t care that he used to be a state level football player. All you care is that he does’t deserve the power he has because he abuses it to treat people like trash.

He eventually patches up with his intern and then he traps him in his control for life. You feel shitty.

A filmmaker arrives at your office and decides to make a movie out of this boss. When it is released, it shows the boss for the ass that he is, and all you feel is sympathy for the intern. Other viewers don’t call their relationship as mentoring. Nobody leaves the theatre wishing for such a boss to mentor them. Everyone wishes that the intern finally sees that they are in an abusive and self-deprecating job. You are satisfied with the as-is portrayal and don’t outrage about the movie being made. If only, you are glad that someone portrayed an abusive boss well so that young graduates waiting to be validated at a job are careful to not get sucked into a lifetime of abusive control.

But let’s say that the film maker was an abusive control freak himself who actually admires this boss of yours. So he ends up portraying him as a rebel boss, not conforming to typical corporate expectations. Lot of focus is on how learned he is, how awesome he is. His abusive treatment towards this intern is shown as mentorship. There are songs in the movie that pop up right after the boss abuses the itern and these songs glorify their relationship as mentor-mentee relationship. The movie is directed in a way that makes people feel sad for the time the intern’s parents pull him out of the job. People empathize with the boss’s heartbreak – he can no longer mentor this intern. They don’t get triggered when they see him spiral down into a shittier boss than he already was – you know, the poor thing has lost his mentee, his world is destroyed, so his actions are the side effects of so much intellectual energy remaining unregulated for lack of the rightful mentee.

How would you come back home and feel about this movie? Would you not outrage? Would it not upset you that people do not see the glorification? Would it not disturb you that young impressionable interns walk out of the theatre hoping to be mentored by such a boss? Would you not outrage at the glorification of an abusive boss passing off as an as-is portrayal? Would you not want to challenge the reviewers who call it an “unusual mentorship” story?

People ask us why this outrage only with Kabir Singh and not on Gangs of Wassepur and the likes. They seem to not get the idea of glorification. And then there are some who only saw one or two aspects as problematic. One otherwise sensible youtube reviewer rightly called out the fat shaming episode in the movie but was far from fuming about the load of misogyny and toxic masculinity in the movie.

You have shitty bosses in every company. And just because they are available everywhere that doesn’t mean they should not be called out for what they do. Ffs, it’s not a mentor-mentoo relationship. Recognize the abuse. No one deserves a bully and abusive man like Kabir Singhania. And that’s why we outrage when a Kabir Singhania is glorified while many of his kind ruin real lives. Can you please not drive us to another round of explanation about glorification vs as-is portrayal with another Kabir Singh, Radhe or Ranjhana?