It was as much blue as much it was green
It first kissed her lips, When she turned a teen..!
With stick turquoise, she shared a great bond
She was no Hermoine, but it was her magic wand..!
Staying in her bag and at times in denim pockets
It knew her joys and those buried secrets..!
Cheeks, goblets and on few lips – she’d left its stain
Few remained beloved and many turned disdain.!
Quivering of her lips, her lust, angst and agony
It hid them all across seasons – hot, cold and rainy..!
It wasn’t just her decor, it was her masking veil
Sometimes strong and sometimes frail…!
What lied beneath the turquoise lipstick, no one knew!
It was a weird color – Few found it glitzy and many just sneered.!
It’s a weird color that lived a mysterious life with her
Gleaming when she smiled and smiling when she cried.!
It stayed in there, for long few weeks
In the grand old keg, with no big leaks..
Five days away from the month of Jan
It was locked and sealed, in a large tin can..!
The pale brown beer soon wanted to leave
But a week from now was new year’s eve..!
With song and dance, under white moon light
The beer was promised a merry night…!
When the frenzy crowd sang ten to one..
A man picked the beer, the lady a bourbon.!
At the sight of her, it bubbled with joy..
She looked as pretty as the lady in troy..!
To propose to her, while she stayed in poise..
The man lacked words and the beer a voice..!
She clinked the glasses and called for cheers
He sipped the beer and it melted his fears..!
He confessed his love, when the light went dim
Was it the man or the beer inside him?
Looking at her, I wonder what he said
But her smile had died and the face turned red..!
While the rest were busy wishing new year
He turned grim and spoke to the beer…!
I liberated you, set you free.!
But you turned sour and you lathered,
spilled my secrets and all over.! – He alleged
What did the beer say?
My life is short, I don’t age like wine
My froth is the key, but the fools do whine..
You set me free, is what you think..
Contrary is the truth, Now shut up and drink..!
Oh Mr. Vagabond, oh dear happiness
While you seek home
Hopping from one heart to another
And sometimes taking shelter in those deluded minds..
If you come across him
Stay there for a little longer,
Stay with him, But not forever..!
Caress him; fill his heart with joy, but not too much..!
He is ambitious
His is a nomad, like you…
Seeking shelter in one dream and another…
Dreams that only grow bigger and better…
Leave him before he grows content
That would be a contempt, but a necessary evil!
Like a horse that has to go through the dressage
He needs to be roughened up, he needs to be broken down, forever and ever…
Oh Mr. Vagabond, oh dear happiness
In every person who has been a part of his life, Leave a part of you..!
May be that’s the purpose of his life…
May be that’s the truth he should be veiled from..!
He is a delirious mind on a perilous path
Let him be in that never ending pursuit of purpose..!
The word ‘success’ is a relative term that comes with varied definitions. For a teacher it could be helping her students pass an exam, for a farmer it could be that first crop of the season, for a poor father it could be educating their kids and for ‘Murad’ it’s rapping his way to break all shackles.
The tagline ‘Apna Time aayega’ resonates with the emotions of every aspirant out there and it’s no surprise that the song has turned into a new anthem of success.
What’s in the story?
Gully boy is your rags-to-RAPS-to-riches. It’s the traditional story of an underdog making his way to the top, that has been encompassed in mumbai’s underbelly. I must admit that the ghettos have never been painted so beautifully on screen.
We have Ranveer as ‘Murad’, who has a thing for writing and an ear for rap. Murad’s father is a driver who curtails his son’s ambitions to roti-kapda-makhaan, for he thinks that reaching for the skies is a thing cut out for the privileged.
The audacious Safeena (Alia Bhat) is his love interest. Her antics supply the doses of humor to make us laugh and smile. And her affection supplies the much needed dose of life to murad.
Winging his dreams is MC Sher – another rapper from the by-lanes of mumbai, who has earned his own bunch of followers. When the underconfident Murad meets Sher, the former discovers his definition of success.
Sher provides rhythm to Murad’s rich poetry and turns him into a rapper – GULLY BOY.
GULLY BOY battling his socio-economics and winning the coveted ‘rap contest title’ forms the crux of the story.
Hip-hop has been an evolving subculture in certain parts of the country. Underground rappers must have been an unheard thing for most of us, until DIVINE and NAEZY rose to certain prominence.
While the movie isn’t their biopic, it has certainly taken a leaf or few from the lives.
Familiarising us with an alien tradition, weaving an underdog story out of it and still making us root for the protagonist is perhaps the biggest win of Zoya and her fellow writer Reema Kagti.
The ghettos of mumbai isn’t a new destination on the maps of Indian cinema. But offering a new visual perspective to it, perhaps, has added to the movie viewing experience. It looks familiar yet new, beautiful yet real.
Montages is Zoya’s forte. Her montages supply powerful photographs of human emotions.
And replicating her style in ZNMD, she has made a wise use of her father’s poetry skills – giving us poems filled with worldly wisdom.
RANVEER, ALIA, MC SHER AND THE ENSEMBLE CAST
We all know that Ranveer is a capsule of volcanic-energy. Burying his off-screen persona behind that baby-innocent face, he pulls of a restrained performance that could be labelled as ‘tremendous’.
In Dil Dhadakne do, he was a rich-kid with a lost voice and in here is a lower middle class guy with a similar conflict. Reflecting melancholy in his eyes throughout the movie, he is endearing as ever. This movie is a valuable addition to his short filmography that boasts of diverse and memorable roles.
Similar thing could be written about Alia. In here, she churns out those giggles, brings out those smiles while playing the second fiddle to Murad.
Camouflaging herself into every character that she plays can’t just be tagged as ‘talent’. There’s a lot of hard work that she puts in there.
Siddhant Chaturvedi as MC sher picks your attention. He stays with you for his effortless performance and because of the beautiful way in which his character has been written.
The cast that also includes his friends Mohin, father Vijay Raaza and his mother other among others, is one of the best cast ensemble in recent past.
NOT JUST ANOTHER MUSIC-MELODY-FEST
A movie about an aspiring musician is bound to be loaded with umpteen songs and this movie is no exception.
But what Zoya has certainly done right, is preserving the historical essence of hip-hop culture. The songs reflect on the socio-economic problems and comes across as a channel to vent out personal frustration. And every rap provides a powerful commentary relevant in present times.
Music has been composed by wide range of musicians, mostly hip-hop rappers. ‘Mere Gully mein’ the original song by DIVINE and NAEZY, has been reprised with similar visuals. May it was the director’s way of paying them a tribute.
I particularly loved the way the background score leans towards classical music in the later part of the second half, culminating in to the beautiful ‘train song’ 🙂
‘Apna Time Aayega’ led to whistles and cheers in my screen.
WHAT ‘I FELT’ COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
Something that was seen in all her movies – ‘Luck By Chance’, ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’, ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ and now ‘Gully Boy’. Her obsession with ‘keeping it all tidy’.
It wouldn’t bother us when we watch a glossy ghetto in foreign movies, but while watching a desi one, may be keeping it a little more rustic would have helped us get soaked in the lower-middle class life. Owing to this fact, his socio-economic problems ‘appeared’ like first-world problems, in spite of being important. (or maybe it was only me)
In her segment of ‘Lust Story’, the platform for empathy was beautifully laid out ‘visually’. In here heavy banking has been done on the performances and the writing.
Also the musical life of Murad rarely sees a failure, except for his first underground rap battle. In the rest other parts of the movie – It’s an upward curve. May be planting few more failures would have added to the emotional quotient.
The forced twist in the auditions – MC Sher’s eviction and Murad’s selection were two distinct and powerful emotions.
I don’t know if it was the execution, editing or writing, but neither the sympathy for MC Sher’s eviction nor the empathy for Murad’s success reached its emotional fulfillment. There was an emotional confusion.
Well as they say, nitpicking is a lot easier job then going out there and shooting your own movie. But my tiny little complaints shouldn’t take away the glory of the movie.
THE FINAL WORD
‘Gully Boy’ is a beautifully packaged movie with traditional narrative but impeccable performances accompanied by powerful music.
Understanding the prose of the rap would be an additional take away, but the underlying story of ‘rags to riches’ is a formula that always works.
If you have an ambitious person in you, go hit the theatres. And while ‘Apna time aayega’ plays, root of the underdog ‘Murad’ and the underdog in ‘you’.
PS: Movies like this should be watched without an interval to savor its beauty.
Author’s Note: ‘Conversations’ is a series of fictional short stories comprising of conversations between the fictional ‘ME’ and a fictional ‘SHE’
SHE – Who drinks coffee at 1 in the afternoon?
ME – (grins) Well, if you walk into that coffee shop with me, you would know.!
SHE – Wow.! Instead, why don’t we walk into that FINE-DINE across the road and find out who on the freaking earth would have lunch at 1 in the afternoon..!
Was she irritated? I grew confused and kept quiet for a moment.
ME – Okay.! Tell me one thing. On a scale of 1-10, how hungry are you?
SHE – Well, I don’t know about hungry.! (pause) But if you ask me how angry I am on the scale of 1-10, I would say that the scale is about to snap now.
She was certainly irritated.
ME – Did you have coffee in the morning?
SHE – No.. I didn’t..
ME – See.. there you go..!
SHE – What?
ME – The withdrawal syndrome!
SHE – (confused) Eh?
ME – You consumed zero caffeine today.! And you have already begun to show the withdrawal syndrome..!
SHE – Look! I don’t even know if that was an attempt at humor. But I am real hungry now..!
ME – There you go.! Symptom number one – Increased Hunger
SHE – (restraining anger) Do you even realize that you are seconds away from getting yelled at?
ME – And that would be the second symptom. Irritability coupled with anger.!
I grinned, but she didn’t. My laugh died a silent death.
She stared at me for a while and began to walk away. She entered the restaurant and I followed her into it. She sat down and I picked up the menu.
ME – (surfing through the menu) Okay listen.! You want to start with some soup?
SHE – Yes..! Let us..!
ME – (confused) But they don’t have soup in here.!
SHE – (shouts) Then for god’s sake, order something that they have in here..!
The entire restaurant fell silent for a moment. I fought awkward glances from everyone in there.
ME – This has gone out of my hands.!
SHE – What?
ME – First it was caffeine withdrawal syndrome. And now you are showing ‘Soup withdrawal syndrome’.!
She didn’t respond, not with words. She grabbed the menu card from my hands and quickly glanced through the items.
Waiter arrived at our table.
SHE – Give me number 4 in the starter and number 7 in the main course. And make it spicy.!
She passed on the menu to me. I snubbed the menu card and placed my order.
ME – (to the waiter) Listen. Give me number ten in the starter and number nine in the main course.!
WAITER – (confused) But there’s no ten in the starter.!
ME – What? No ten? You got a nine in there?
WAITER – We got only eight items in the starters sir..!
ME – What’s the eighth?
WAITER – Lava chicken sir..
I think for a while.
ME – Why don’t you do one thing. Prepare Lava chicken and make it extra spicy. Make it your tenth item in the menu, name it ‘volcanic chicken’ and bring it to my table.
I grinned at the waiter and he threw an unhappy smile at me, before exiting into the kitchen. And we dived deep into 2 minutes of silence.
SHE – Okay listen.! I am sorry.! The hunger got on my nerves.! And the mood swings thanks to the cycle of my month..
ME – That’s okay.! (smiles) Thank god I stayed calm..!
SHE – (smiles) Else?
ME – Else, I would have missed an opportunity of having starter number ten, main course number nine with the lady number one.
She smiled, gently. And then, Silence…
ME – And wow.! Look at us.! I was a lunch boy and you were a coffee girl.! But today we have opposite cravings..!
SHE – (smiles) Well.. Things gotta change right?
ME – Yes..! Like the coffee that they served in your favorite coffee place.
SHE – What about it?
ME – Earlier it was a bad coffee place..
SHE – (laughs gently) And you like it now..?
ME – Na.! Now they have gone worse.! But things not good for you, that’s what we get addicted to..!
Gentle laughs exchanged. Soft Jazz in the restaurant, continues to play. Soft Jazz in the restaurant, continues to play.
SHE – (smiles) You have changed.! A lot.!
ME – How about my sense of humor? Still intact..?
SHE – It”s like my favorite coffee place. It has gone from bad to worse (laughs)
ME – Ah.! Beware.! You might pick addiction.!
We both laugh gently, yet again. Followed by, awkward silence..
ME – Anyway.. As you said, things gotta change and so should people. We are meeting after a year and I sincerely hope that I am coming across as a better person and not a different one
She didn’t speak. Me neither. Waiter arrived at our table with the orders. We slowly began to munch the starters.
SHE – What was running in your mind, when you asked us stay away from each from each other other for a year??
ME – You know I am weird, don’t you?
SHE smiled softly.
ME – Hmm… you know when you start watching movies, reading stories, you sort of begin to imagine the ‘would be happy moments’ – Scripted beautifully, executed to perfection.
I grabbed a tissue, wiped my mouth and continued.
ME – I thought an year of staying away, would induce longings and when we finally meet, it would be one of the happiest moments in our lives
SHE – (poignant smile) Did that work?
ME – You tell me..!
SHE – Well… I don’t know.! This is strange. It’s completely awkward (pause) It’s like I know you, but I don’t. And it’s this strange confusion.! If all the memories that we had together, was it real or was it figment of imagination? or a beautiful dream that I had as a kid that’s appearing blurred now?
ME – Tell me one thing?
SHE – What?
ME – Am I coming across as a stranger?
SHE – May be… yes.. (pause) I mean, I can still see the weird you.! But I think it’s me.! I think I’ve changed as a person
ME – So you no longer interested in trivial talks? weird conversations and poor humor?
SHE – I don’t know..
ME – Well.. I know..
SHE – What?
ME – It’s the withdrawal syndrome..
SHE – From coffee?
ME – From ME..
ME – Well… I guess, you are right.! We are strangers….
I get up and made an exit from the restaurant, leaving her in pensive silence.
After ten minutes….
ME – Are you expecting someone?
I walked into the restaurant and pointed at the chair across her table. SHE frowned in confusion, and then smiled gently.
ME – Ah. I am here in the town after an year. The town has changed, a lot. Afraid that I would be lost, I was looking for a person to have a lunch conversation with. Would you mind?
She smiled gently.
ME – I shall take that as a yes…
The waiter arrived with the bill.
ME – So lady, what will you have?
SHE – I had my lunch. I could stay until you finish yours..
ME – Oh.. Then how about some bad coffee?
Without waiting for her response, I turned to the waiter.
ME – Get us two cups of bad coffee
WAITER – Sir.. but we have only latte, espresso, cappuccino, Macchiato..
ME – Well.. Any of these would anyway make a great bad coffee.. Get us two cups..
WAITER leaves in confusion.
ME – (smiles) So..Let me start with the formal question. What do you do for living?
She held her silence, before she spoke.
SHE – Listen… I know you are trying hard. I want to smile, I want to talk to you. And as much I think about it, its making me increasingly uncomfortable and filling me with awkward feelings.. And I am certain that we can never get to being the old us..!
There was a strange sense of pain. I looked at her for a while and smiled. The jazz playlist continued to play.
ME – May be you are right.. We can never get to being the old ‘us’.. That might spoil all our beautiful memories, the happy pictures that we have in our mind (Pause) But we could try being the new ‘us’…
SHE – And what is the new ‘us’..?
ME – Two strangers.. who’ve met for the first time.. Have a long memorable weird, funny conversation. And while they converse, they also know that this would be their last ever meeting..
I smiled. There was a long silence, before the waiter arrived at our table with the orders. We picked the coffee cups and took our first sips.
SHE – So..Let me start with the formal question. What do you do for living?
ME – So tell me exactly.. What happened?
SHE – It fell into the pool from the first floor .
ME – I thought cats knew how to swim..
SHE – The pool was dry.. it hit the floor..
ME – (laughs) that’s a funny way to die..
SHE glared at me, through her sadness. I stopped laughing and blurted out.
ME – I mean..I am sorry for its death. I do…
SHE – That’s okay..!
ME – So are you okay now?
SHE continued to look sad.
ME – What does the silence mean? That you are not okay?
SHE – The silence means that I want to spend sometime in silence..
ME – (confused) Oh..! Does silence help?
SHE – I don’t know. I will only know if you stop asking me questions and let me be by myself. So, please .. could I get a moment alone?
ME – Yeah. You could. But when do u want it?
SHE – (irked) Now..!
ME – I mean.. I am confused now.. Does it mean that I should leave or would you be leaving?
She looked at me for a while, got up and began to walk away. I quickly ran behind her.
ME – Listen..
SHE – (turns around) What?
ME – Why would the cat jump into a water less pool?
SHE was visibly annoyed.
ME – See.. I was trying to understand.. Did it really think that there was water in the pool or did it accidentally slip and fall?
SHE – Na.. It had a rivalry with the cat next door. So that cat plotted a murder, pushed mine from the first floor and made it appear like a suicide.!
Awkward silence and then I break into loud laugh.
ME – You are joking right?
SHE – (restraining) What do you want?
My laugh died…
ME – I want you to smile..
SHE – I shall… I need sometime..
She began to walk away. I began to follow her. She stops, turns around.
SHE – I asked you not to follow me..
ME – (confused).. No you didn’t say that.. You just told me that you want to spend sometime in silence.. So I was following you silently..
She glared at me for a while..
SHE – Okay.. Stop following me, stop talking to me and Leave me alone..
ME – Come on.. You can’t keep adding rules..
SHE – See.. I understand that you want to see me smile.. I shall, eventually. But for now, it’s important for me to be sad for something dear that I have lost..
ME – Why is it so important? I didn’t cry for my dog when it died..
SHE – I never knew that you had a dog..
ME – Apparently we had one, when I was a kid, 4 year old. Car ran over it. But more importantly I didn’t cry..
SHE – You were a kid! Why would you cry?
ME – Well.. I had cried when I had lost my mickey mouse eraser
She looked at me for a while.
SHE – You cried over a lost eraser but not over a dead dog. Wow..! What does that tell about you?
I think for a while..
ME – I don’t know. That’s a difficult question. Don’t confuse me now. You just tell me what should I do to make you smile?
SHE – Leave me alone..
ME – I don’t think that would make you smile..
She began to walk away.
ME – Hey.. I figured out the answer..!
SHE – For what?
ME – I cried over a lot eraser but not over a dead dog. I know what it tells about me…
SHE – What?
ME – That I was a Stupid kid… and that..hmm… being stupid helps.. See I know that your cat had..
SHE – Stop calling it a cat.! It had a name..
ME – And what was it? Cat Winslet?
SHE – No. it was a male. Winnie..
ME – Winnie is a nice name. But anyway.. See.. when Winnie was alive, it made you smile right.? Now that it’s gone, you think that being sad is a way to pay respects. But I feel that Winslet..
SHE – Winnie..
ME – Yeah sorry.. I feel that Winnie would be so offended to see you forcing yourself to be sad. Winnie would be like – “come on girl. I died, you cried and I smiled. But now don’t stretch it too far. Get over it. Stop overacting”
SHE – Was that a joke?
ME – No.. It was a beautiful philosophy. But I can come up with a joke – What would you call a cat which serves ice cream?
SHE – Sorry.. I am in no mood to listen to jokes…
ME – It’s a puzzle for god’s sake.. I will leave you alone if you answer it..
She continues to walk, briskly towards her car.
ME – Moreover the puzzle has a cat in it.. Please.. You got to respect cats.
SHE stops, looks at me.
SHE – All rite.. You are going to leave me alone if I get the answer right.
I nod and she begins to think…
SHE – cat-all-ice-is? as in catalysis..
ME – Well.. This sounds like a better answer than the one that I had in mind..
SHE – And what did you have in mind?
I smiled at her and walked towards her car. She followed me.
ME – Well.. A cat which serves ice cream is called… ( I opened the car door)…A gift that would make you smile..
I kept looking at her, with a hope that my SURPRISE GIFT would make her smile.
Her expression changed for sure. But wait.! She isn’t smiling. What’s wrong..!
I looked inside the car – The ice cream splattered all over the seat and her beautiful cushioned seat torn apart. It wasn’t a pleasant sight.
The only thing that was intact was the bow on the kitten’s head with a tiny label which read- “CAT WINSLET”.
ME – (nervous smile) I think you are right. I should leave you alone… That always helps.
And I sped away….!
There’s something beautiful about unfulfilled love stories! It’s poignant but strings together those “could and would have-s”, filling your heart with beautiful imagination.
The romance in 96 is not unrequited, yet it’s filled with things unspoken.
A boy – Ramachandran ‘RAAM’ and a girl – Jaanaki ‘JAANU’ in their early teens, fall in love – through silent glances and words unsaid. Circumstances bring an abrupt end to their short-lived romance that had blossomed in silence.
Now they meet again, after 22 long years, in a school reunion. The female is married, but the guy isn’t.
Will the silence continue to prevail but with a lot of awkwardness or will they burst into tears at the sight of each other or will the romance from the past be rekindled?
96 brings forth a beautiful love story that we may have experienced in parts, witnessed in our neighborhood or watched umpteen times in movies like “autograph” or “before sunset”.
Yet, as they say ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever”. We couldn’t be bored because we have seen it all before. Except for a stretched later part of second half, 96 is filled with moments that make you smile, turn teary eyed, grow nostalgic and root for the protagonists.
WHAT WORKS FOR THE MOVIE 96?
– The riveting narrative that cuts between the present, past, perspectives, “could haves” and supplies us with the doses of 90’s nostalgia.
– “Those-eyes-say-it-all” performances from Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha. While Trisha battles her inner pain with a tranquil smile, Sethupathi handles it with his anxiety, nervousness and sometimes as JAANU terms it – “being an innocent school kid”.
However hard they try, their eyes can’t help but show a tinge of melancholy. And this makes us long for their togetherness.
A special mention should go to the actors who have played the young “JAANU” and “RAAM”. It’s because of the way they have established the chemistry between the characters, that we begin to root for the present them.
I am not a person who buys the thought of “goosebumps moment”. But in the movie when Trisha first walks in, the score “Kaathalae” takes off and it was enough to break my ego and put my hair strands into exercise.
Govind Menon’s score furnishes varied emotions that resonates with the mood and amplifies it, in mesmerizing fashion.
– The debutant Prem Kumar ‘s direction that is devoid of the traditional technique of melodrama. This maturity is perhaps the greatest strength of the movie.
If you Scout through, you would get enough moments that would demand one. But the director has found resort in keeping it real, keeping it silent and sometimes even bypassing the background score. All these, without lowering the emotional quotient.
I can even remember those few moments, when the sound design transitions into deep silence, but only to enhance the mood.
My tiny little complaint about the movie would be about its editing – Well this is a subjective thought. There were many moments where I was yearning to look at RAAM and see what he is going through. Because RAAM he is a bundle of emotions. But the editor had opted to play it completely on JAANU, whose emotions we know already.
Even the second half of the second half appears a little stretched, might leave a few audience in restless state.
Prem Kumar has given us a beautiful romantic drama that is devoid of melodrama and proves us the fact that “old school” love stories are still relevant and if done right, can cast magic.
Vijay Sethupathi continues to choose his roles right and Trisha returns to the screen with the charm that makes us fall in love with her – all over again.
96 should be your go-to movie this weekend, if you have a thing for romantic stories.
PS: My Awe for the movie could also be because of my nostalgia.