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.