Ranveer Singh’s Murad silently looks at his reflection on the glass door of a five star hotel in a scene from Gullyboy. Bright shining Mumbai lights look down upon him as a claustrophobic Murad sits on the driver’s seat in a posh car in another scene. Writers Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti give us innumerable such nuanced moments amidst the chaos in their latest collaboration. Their musical notes w’rap’ a narrative reflecting issues both socio-cultural and deeply personal.
Gully Boy is a sensory experience and unlike what the title suggests, it’s not just the story of a rapper who discovers his worth and finds his place in the society. It is many things at once.
It’s an account of social division (there are instances that ‘look you in the eye’ addressing social class & race or others that subtly attack casteism & sexism) while never making a hullaballoo about it.
There is camaraderie and maturity alike in a comfortable love story that never seeks your attention (though you’ll still find yourself drawn to it).
There is compassion in a mentor-mentee relationship (read Murad and MC Sher).
There is passion and ambition in altering one’s reality through talent and hard-work (a slum boy is aware of his talent needing just a nudge that comes from his strong partner who is equally confident that she’s a brilliant student and will be able to sustain a livelihood for both of them, lest he fails).
There is defiance to being victims of circumstance (The obvious example is GullyBoy himself who wouldn’t accept being a meagre driver or service personnel that he is ‘destined’ to be. There is also a middle-aged woman who challenges orthodox social norms whilst refusing to accept her husband’s second marriage on one hand and a young woman who confronts her parents as she is forced to find a suitor amidst crucial years of her career).
There is mockery of the economic and social divide (an underprivileged man counts his steps to measure an affluent artist’s bathroom size for the SKY is out of his reach).
Strong sub-plots like these add to the texture of GullyBoy as the writers treat each character and theme with equal respect.
The film taps into a strikingly different note for both the music and its protagonist and this change is more than welcome. The music is fresh and the rhythm often compels you to swing up and down with its metre. This is asli Hindustani hip hop – peppy, upbeat yet rustic and deep (add to that verses from Javed Akhtar’s poetry and voila!) So is the case with Ranveer Singh. He isn’t that exaggerated figure you’ve seen at events or interviews recently. He’s the silent powerful performer (the one you might have last noticed in Vikramaditya Motwane’s Lootera or partly in Zoya’s Dil Dhadakne Do). Jay Oza’s camera focuses on his pale face or sometimes his feeble eyes that carry his Murad(wishes) and he draws you into his world effortlessly!
Safeena(played by Alia Bhatt) is Murad’s childhood sweetheart and their romance is a treat to watch for it thrives in their comfort instead of the usual mawkish mush. She is strong. In fact, she’s a terror for most of the men and a bomb that’ll explode when you least expect it to. So is the explosive Amruta Subhash who makes one of the boldest statements of the film amidst an orthodox family setting. Not to miss is Vijay Raaz (from Dhamaal & Welcome), the rigid & brutal father as opposed to the funny man you must’ve recalled from his previous films. Siddharth Chaturvedi as MC Sher is the man of the hour- a seasoned rapper and a befitting example of the quintessential mentor for aspiring artist Murad.
With GullyBoy, Zoya Akhtar goes back to her Luck By Chance zone (remember her first film tracing the journey of a struggling actor amidst the glamour in the world of Hindi Cinema) this time presenting the journey of a struggling artist in a bustling city that seldom acknowledges ‘the bhookhe fakkad’. The best part- not once do the writers glorify unfortunate situations. The Gullies are the heart and soul of our gully boy (come on, he raps about and within his gullies)!
There is enough to like about GullyBoy’s silence and sound. If you don’t like the silence, you’ll definitely take back the sound and shout ‘Apna Time Ayega’ in events and situations hereafter.
P.S- Watch out for the final victory – you might be shouting & cheering and they’ll have you silenced! 🙂
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