Gully Boy became everyone’s favourite movie ever since “Asli Hip Hop” came out. Zoya Akhtar has already accumulated goodwill, especially amongst the youth ever since Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. For such a movie, with a powerful cast like Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, and Kalki Koechlin in the lead, the expectations are too high.
Gully Boy did justice to the hype it created. While there was nothing very extraordinary about the movie, I came feeling the whole experience was money well spent. With only a few movies under her belt, Zoya Akhtar has created a niche for herself – that of sensible cinema that appeals to critics and audiences alike.
Here are the aspects that worked for me to write my Gully Boy review:
The Plot – From streets to stardom
Murad is a hero like no other because he isn’t funny, charming, or a fighter. He cries, shows vulnerability, is mushy with his girlfriend, and fights with his parents. He is also very nervous, self conscious and unsure of himself as depicted many times in the movie. However, despite trying circumstances he is resilient and doesn’t lose hope.
The movie does have a typical happy ending but this doesn’t spoil the movie, because it is Gully Boy’s journey that stands out. Murad is the cliched Bollywood Muslim boy clad in Kurta-Pyjama with surma in his eyes and a taweez around his neck. Similarly, Safina is the cliched blindingly white Bollywood Muslim girl, who compensates for the rules and discipline enforced in her household by being loud and rebellious. Yet the story is never about the plight of downtrodden Muslims.
Another aspect of the movie that few Bollywood movies manage doing is that it doesn’t become a love story. Murad’s love life is just a part of the narrative, not the story. I also feel their relationship, with its on-again-off-again nature, was realistic.
MC Sher, other than being a great rapper, was also immensely kind and secure. To take someone else under your wing and let them hog all the attention you’re used to, shows great character. I think it is MC Sher, and not Siddhant Chaturvedi, that is the national crush of India.
With his eccentric demeanour off camera, one can’t take Ranveer Singh too seriously. But there was no Ranveer Singh in the movie, there was only Murad. He convinces you as a poor talented boy fighting hard to keep sailing. What’s special is, if you watch the movie on mute, you’d realise that a lot of the times Ranveer Singh is just emoting, not really saying or doing much. But he conveys a range of emotions just through his face.
Normally, it is only the leads’ acting skills I can appreciate, supporting characters just feel like very replaceable extras to me. This was the first movie where I got what supporting characters were all about. At the beginning the newbie Siddhant Chaturvedi stands out, playing the confident and supportive friend-cum-mentor. Then comes in Kalki Koechlin a creative, free-spirited music student who lands Murad his big opening. But one can’t ignore Alia Bhatt, the archetypical possessive girlfriend and Moin, a man with questionable character who comes to our hero’s aid in dire times.
There was no single performer that stood out because they all did so well.
Dialogues and Lyrics
From Safina’s witty retorts to MC Sher’s pep talk to even Murad’s inner monologue, the dialogues are simple whilst having layers of meanings. Murad’s feelings are brought out through rap, and the rap isn’t just a string of rhyming sentences but poetry. And the guy who made everything happened is Vidya Maurya – the dialogue writer of Gully Boy.
This is where I feel the movie really stood out. Indian Cinema has a lot to boast about in recent times with meaningful mass entertainers. But the way words and language were used in this movie is something other movies will have a hard time mimicking. You weren’t just watching a movie but getting to know the character at a deeper level.
I’m not new to Indian rap. Divine was on my playlist well before Gully Boy and I’m familiar with the works of many Indian rappers of various languages. It was nice however, to see Divine, Dee MC, Raja Kumari, and even Jasleen Royal giving cameo appearances and getting some limelight for the amazing work they do.
Every Rose has its Thorn
I felt like Murad and Safina had an abusive relationship and while Safina was supportive, she wasn’t really a good girlfriend. Safina’s character is taken lightly and even laughed about in the movie.
There’s also a scene where Kalki and a friend vandalise hoardings, mocking them for showing fair skinny girls when Kalki Koechlin is fair and skinny herself.
Over to you…
While watching the movie you can tell the thought and effort that’s gone into it. Gully Boy, with its impactful rap and dialogues, and engaging story make me realise, it isn’t that Bollywood doesn’t have good movies and music like Hollywood. We just aren’t watching and listening to the right stuff and not giving preference to the real culture that is being showcased in such movies.
So that was my Gully Boy review, let me know yours in the comments section below 👇