Director: Zoya Akhtar
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Kalki Koechlin, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Vijay Raaz
That Zoya Akhtar is a fine director with a flair for sensitive storytelling has been common knowledge for a while now but equally, she has always been perceived as one enamoured with tales of the elite and their charmed lives. Well, her new film --Gully Boy, is set to challenge and change that perception.
Akhtar spins an inspirational story from the dark reality of underground rappers Divine and Naezy.
That art and artistic talent can come from misery and darkness of Dharavi—Asia’s largest slum –is uplifting. There have been enough films dedicated to the rise of gangsters from urban ghettos but to see youngsters fuel their creative dreams with teenage angst is reassuring to a society constantly at war with itself. Apna Time Ayega with lyrics by Divine and Ankur Tewari is sheer brilliance in the way it captures young India’s dreams and aspirations and is picturised with equal finesse.
Good and powerful storytelling often opens one's eyes to new experiences, exposes one to different worlds and Gully Boy does precisely that. Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar’s writing is nothing short of marvelous. Vijay Maurya packs in the punch with his dialogues, which are not verbose, but land smoothly.
Ranveer Singh’s Murad is intense, endearing and sensitive. Singh doesn’t miss a beat in the film alternating between rebellious and reticent with a felicity that we have come to expect from him. As Murad, Singh, even without the excesses of his Khilji or Simmba, is both sincere and riveting. The son of a driver (Vijay Raaz) and Razia (Amruta Subhash), Murad, confined within the narrow squalid tenements, where every square inch is put to good use, struggles to spread his wings and fly. Should reality determine the size of one’s dreams is a question that would resonate with everyone and one that Murad keeps pondering. He eventually finds his deliverance in music. It truly sets him free.
Every actor even in minor parts is pitch perfect be it Vijay Verma, Kalki Koechlin, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Vijay Raaz, Amruta Subhash or Sheeba Chaddha. Siddhant Chaturvedi is quite a find and an actor to watch out for. Alia Bhatt gets a smaller part but she remains an audience favourite. The cheering and laughter that greeted her repartees were telling. Bhatt’s smart pick of films is certainly holding her in good stead. But this film belongs to Singh for making Gully Boy come alive.
The technical side to film quite evidently, goes beyond the brief- sound design of the film is noteworthy as is Nitin Baid’s editing that helps the story go back and forth with its music sequences. The pacing of the story is also good. Kagti and Akhtar let scenes breathe and their import sink in, but just about. The narrative never feels rushed or excessively languorous.
Several times Bollywood films based on music don’t get their music right but Gully Boy has an impressive track. Dedicated to a single genre, it serves both as dialogues as well as narrative voice, never ho-hum. It throbs with rebellious energy compelling the audience to sing along, echoing the sentiment, making them at one with Murad.
Predictably, the response to Gully Boy so far at Berlin International Film Festival and on home turf has been rousing. With its evocative true-life story, it could well be the best modern fairytale film to come out of Mumbai.
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