Updated: Mar 1, 2019
Apna Time Agaya [Our Time Will Come]
Frustrated by his personal circumstances, Murad sits in the driver's seat muttering to himself “Apna Time Ayega”, convincing himself that he, too, will make it in this world.
Gully Boy does just that--makes it in a world full of systemic injustices. A story loosely based on two Mumbai based rappers, Naezy and Divine, Gully Boy navigates the predictable world of hardship, love, and finding a place in your life driven by passion. Murad Ahmad, the son of a driver, so aptly portrayed by Ranveer Singh, lives in the destitute parts of Mumbai. The story follows a predictable trajectory--where a poor boy seeks to provide his family stability, surrounded by the pressures of making it into a middle class job after college--but his heart seeks something else. The plot is not groundbreaking; it is a story seen and heard--from the corners of the street to a star, the audience is well primed by its similar predecessors.
The magic of the film comes in its portrayal of the characters, to the immersive nature of the story line, where the audience walks along the gullys [streets] of Mumbai. Ranveer Singh steps away from his boisterous roles to take on a more pensive and gentle demeanor. Singh’s portrayal of Murad is so spot on, that as you watch the movie, you often forget that you are watching the same man who took on the manic Khilji. The genius of the film lies within the dialogues which aren’t spoken--the truest sign of an actor who has mastered his craft. From his father's betrayal, to experiencing the entrapment of his circumstances, Ranveer captures the emotions of life breaking your heart one day at a time. The brilliance behind Ranveer Singh’s acting is the effortless nature of how he captures the nuance of someone who is so ordinary and interacts with the various people in his world. The chemistry between the protagonist and those around him further validates the authenticity of Gully Boy.
One of the most fun scenes to watch is Murads fascination with MC Sher, a local Mumbai rapper. MC Sher, played by Siddhant Chaturvedi, is the true hidden gem of this cinematographic experience. Sher, a seemingly prodigal son of Mumbai Rap, helps Murad AKA Gully Boy navigate the world of the Mumbai rap scene. Sher proves to be the best mentor for a budding Murad, imparting knowledge and acting as a cheerleader, something that all of our lives require. Siddhant’s disposition was meant for MC Sher as he exudes a natural confidence, speaks with the best of the Mumbai inflections in his words, and gives Sher a life with the sheer power and agility of a seasoned rapper. Shers outwardly nature serves as the perfect foil to Murads brooding disposition, truly bringing out a zeal in him and his rhymes.
Another fascinating dynamic is that of Murad and Safeena. Safeena, played by Alia Bhatt, is spunky and hilarious, further proving, Alia Bhatt, can do anything. Medical student and firecracker in one, Bhatt is a cautiously essential part of the film. Knee-slapping catfight scenes and witty one-liners, give this movie a dimension which is required for it to be a blockbuster. Prior to the movie, a Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt pairing was hard to imagine, but the chemistry between the two gave everlasting flames to Murad and Safeena. The hilarity and vulnerable dialogues between them helped establish their roots of love and left the audience cheering as they powered through change.
Director Zoya Akhtar has composed a piece of an authentic cinematic experience. With her ode to Mumbai’s clear dichotomy between the rich and poor, she uses rap and Murad’s story to bridge a gap which is so prevalent in Mumbai's cultural blueprint. The technical aspects of the film further clarify that this is not a story about rap, but the underpinnings of the sociocultural struggles of those who live in a city where starvation and Sabyasachi are neighbors. Akhtars use of imagery in her dialogues and rap couplets clarifies the depth of Murads emotions to the audience. ‘Doori’, one of the first raps recorded by Murad, displays the disparity between people in the city despite existing in the same place. The use of color in the movie to set the tone and cast a shadow on the characters, is near brilliant, as it paints Murad’s world with a film of dust and despair, with glints of hope.
In true Zoya Akhtar fashion, the statement of a woman owning her own world, is expressed time and time again. From Safeenas clear rejection of wanting to cook in the kitchen as she asserts her ability to save lives as a surgeon, to Murad’s mother stating that she wants to resume her catering business, women take ownership of their lives. This isn’t necessarily an iconoclast moment, though it does prove that Indian cinema has began to represent a narrative which has so long been silenced. This movie gives depths to the women in the life of Murad, continually setting an example that though these women serve in the subplots of the film, they stand independently and roar with might.
The candor of the characters and the balance between “silence and storm” is what elevates this movie from just-another-film to an instant cult classic. Like a perfectly composed rap, Gully Boy maintains meter through a recurring pattern of personal stresses and spunky accents to give this told story a prominent heartbeat in films through the ages. If it's hard to discern my love for the movie, let me give it a numerical representation: Gully Boy gets a 5/5 for me.
Until the next time I’m this floored,