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Movie Review: Gully Boy

Movie: Gully Boy

Banners: Excel Entertainment, Tiger Baby

Producers: Ritesh Sidhwani, Farhan Akhtar, Zoya Akhtar

Director: Zoya Akhtar

Cast: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Vijay Raaz, Kalki Koechlin, Vijay Verma, Amruta

Subhash, Jyoti Subhash, Sheeba Chadda, Vijay Maurya

Writer: Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti (Story-Screenplay), Vijay Maurya (Dialogue)

Music: Various Artistes

‘I won’t change my dreams to match my reality; I will change my reality to match my dreams.’ These words by Murad aka Gully Boy sum up what the film is all about. A boy from the slums dreams of making a difference to the lives of people and succeeds through his soulful words and his rap.

A rags-to-riches story like this is not new in Bollywood and Gully Boy could easily have been dismissed as a fictional tale. But knowing that the film is inspired by the lives of rappers Divine and Naezy, who fought the odds to make a mark on the rap scene, makes it a narrative of passion, love, hope and more.

Murad lives in Dharavi with his family. His father is a driver who believes that his modest lifestyle is his destiny. But Murad’s mother hopes that her son will have a different life. She wants him to get an education and a good job and Murad diligently works towards that goal. In his not-so-happening life, there are few happy sparks: rap music and his childhood sweetheart Safeena. From listening to and repeating other rappers, he starts putting his own thoughts to paper.

A chance encounter with rapper, MC Sher and Berklee student Sky changes the course of his life. In the midst of struggling through his personal problems, he discovers an outlet for his frustrations, emotions and passion in his alter ego, Gully Boy. From Underground rap battles to becoming a YouTube sensation and finally reaching the big stage to open for international rapper Nas, Murad’s journey is nothing short of a roller coaster ride.

When she made her first film Luck By Chance, Zoya Akhtar proved that she had the knack of telling the stories of the people living in the margins. And with Gully Boy, she once again proves that no one can tell these stories better than her. With Reema Kagti, Akhtar takes us on an amazing journey of Murad’s life; from the gritty lanes of Dharavi to the larger-than-life stage of a rap concert, there is not a single dull moment in the film.

The writers have managed to capture the nuances of not just the rap scene, but also the pain and angst in the lives of these musical creators. As we travel with Murad and the people around him, we are invariably drawn into his world, his music, his words. What elevates the narrative to another level is the dialogue by Vijay Maurya. There are ample doses of anger, pathos and most importantly humour. And at no point does the Mumbaiya lingo sound fake or forced.

Full marks to Jay Oza for showing us a Mumbai as it is, real, raw and in-your-face. There is no effort to romanticise the city. His camera captures the city’s reality, yet manages to make us fall in love with every part of it. Of course, the soul of the film is its music that is woven beautifully into the storytelling and credit goes to the writers for using the sound of rap and its rhythm so well.

Performance-wise, after watching the movie you feel that Ranveer Singh was born to be Murad aka Gully Boy. He brings Murad to life just through his eyes. There are some stellar scenes in which Ranveer Singh shines. The first time he stands up to his father, when he takes the mic for the first time, during his emotional exchange with Sky… the subtlety in his performance makes the film an unforgettable experience. It’s an award-winning performance from this powerhouse performer.

The only person who manages to steal some of his thunder is Alia Bhatt. Her Safeena is a complete contrast to the calm and cool Murad. She is a little firecracker who is a quirky mix of intelligence and spontaneity. On the one hand, she is a serious medical student who is focused on her career and at the same time she is crazy enough to get into a fist fight and even break a bottle on a girl’s head who tries to get close to Murad! Bhatt once again proves that there is no role that she will not sink her teeth into and make it her own.

An actor who is a revelation is Siddhant Chaturvedi, who makes his debut with this film. He gets under the skin of MC Sher aka Shrikant with absolute ease. Vijay Raaz and Amrut Subhash as Murad’s parents, and Kalki Koechlin as Sky along with the rest of the cast have done a perfect job.


Verdict: Blockbuster!

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