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Review: Gully Boy

Gully Boy is Zoya Akhtar’s new film about a young Indian boy that dreams of becoming a rapper. The story unleashes an unromanticised and unapologetic version of Mumbai on to the audience that is really hard not to be intrigued by. The story has captivating dialogues and a beautiful yet extremely relatable love story being deployed on the sidelines.

The main story is set in a real-life slum in Mumbai and focuses on the dreams and ambitions of a 22-year-old man called Murad who is in his final year of university.

Murad’s Father is a driver and firmly believes in the idea that your dreams should match your social standing and therefore assumes and expects his son to follow in his footsteps and become a servant.

However, his Mother has bigger plans and encourages him to get an education in order to get a stable and secure office job.

However, the plot twist is that Murad has even bigger plans and sets his goals on becoming a rapper.

One thing that makes Ranveer Singh’s portrayal of Murad extremely relatable is that he has absolutely no sense of entitlement. This makes his dreams slightly daunting because he is ultimately venturing out into dubious waters on a whim. He may succeed, obviously for the purpose of the film we know he does, but in real life, he may not. The narrative of this story is fundamentally encouraging the audience to take a risk and follow your dreams, the same way Murad does.

The film mainly focuses on Murad’s journey towards success and explores several obstacles and restrictions that he faces.
The main one being his abusive father and his inability to believe in his son’s dreams. Another hindrance is also his surroundings

Despite this, Zoya Akhtar depicts a real sense of struggle through Murad’s character and because of this, his demeanour doesn’t convey arrogance or ego. Another interesting aspect of the film is that Murad isn’t given too much importance. The start of the film begins with a side character given the centre stage and Ranveer Singh subtly slips into the shot behind him.

As the movie progresses, we see Murad conform to his surroundings and accept a job as a driver and ends up working on New Year’s Eve. Murad is following protocol and doesn’t talk to his rich and entitled passengers and waits for their party to be over in his car all evening. But as he hears the New Year count down and celebrations whilst trapped in his car he consoles himself by saying ‘Apna time aagya” [my time will come] and uses his current situation to write a powerful rap about how he desperately wants to more than his reality.

Later in the film, when he’s on the rise of becoming an established rapper in the Indian hip hop scene, he opens his set with that song and introduces it by saying; ‘I wrote this song when nothing was going right in my life.’ The audience has witnessed Murad’s character come full circle.

One of the most relatable things about this film is that Murad doesn’t have a strong connection in the music scene. He comes from a humble background, everyone around him believes that you die where you were born, but Murad dares to dream much bigger than that. He does not have a Karan Johar to launch his career, he does it alone.

A key aspect of this film is that Murad and Safeena (Alia Bhatt) both have unconventional dreams. We can see that Safeena is very determined to obtain her goals in life. First goal: become a surgeon and second goal: marry Murad.

Whereas, Ranveer Singh portrays a sense of vulnerability in Murad’s character as he takes a little longer to take ownership of his dreams.

The film has managed to redefine Hip Hop within mainstream media and the soundtrack of this film is simply fantastic. The rap songs go beyond conventional rap topics such as drugs, girls, cars and actually talk serious issues in a way that relates to 80% of the Indian population.

To conclude, I’d pay to watch it again.


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