Gully Boy review: Iska Time Aa Gayaa!
Gully Boy has romance, passion, friendship and a gully boy that’ll get you interested in rap, despite yourself
By: Sonia Chopra/Sify.com
Critic's Rating: 3.5/5
Saturday 16 February 2019
Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Kalki Koechlin, Vijay Raaz, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Vijay Varma, Sheeba Chaddha
‘Apna Time Aayega’ may well become the anthem of this generation (actually it could work across the board). The brilliance of the three words encapsulates broken dreams, unrequited love, and eyes ablaze with hope all at once. It a capsule of collective frustration!
The song has you think back to the equally powerful ‘Sadda Haq’ from Rockstar (2011).
When Ranveer Singh as rapper Murad aka Gully Boy thinks of this song, he is in a car, working as a replacement driver outside a music show. His fellow drivers are chatting about a recipe (one of the film’s strongest comedic scenes). He feels disconnected from it all. He feels disconnected with life. And so, he goes inside his car to wait patiently, but then the song erupts from within his soul.
This is the time Murad is rediscovering himself through rap with the help of friend and mentor MC Sher (Siddhant Chaturvedi). He discovers Sher at a college festival as a female singer is booed out by a group of boys (she obediently leaves the stage instead of fighting it out). Sher comes on stage to rap about fake masculinity and proceeds to shame the boy who was responsible for the earlier singer leaving the stage.
Murad becomes a fan, and then develops and mentor-like friendship with Sher who becomes instrumental in his journey.
While there is strife at home with domestic violence and his father being emotionally abusive with him, Murad continues on his journey finding strong supporters along the way.
The exploration of ambiguous moralities is interesting, with close friend Moeen employing abandoned kids in his small-time drug business, but also making sure they get meals and are taken care of.
One of my favourite dialogues in the film is Murad taking a dig on commercial rap artists who only sing about alcohol, womanizing, and expensive clothes calling it ‘nakli shot’. It is interesting that this portion appears in a Bollywood film, an industry that has repeatedly employed and promoted such kind of music. Inspired by the lives of Mumbai rappers Naezy and Divine, Gully Boy talks about several issues, but is careful not to get in too deep with the uncomfortable stuff. Which is fine, as that’s co-writer-director Zoya Akhtar’s prerogative. She remains true to the craft though and it’s a delight to see the atmospherics of the homes of each character and the rawness of a savage rap battle.
The poetry is marvelous and the face-offs are delightful (though one sorely misses female representation here). The character of Sky does come in, but is cut off quite abruptly. Alia Bhatt’s Safeena is ambitious and a surgeon in the making. She knows how to navigate patriarchy and can physically fight anyone flirting with her man, but shows a rather out-of-character response towards the end of the film when she’s hurt in love. We also never quite know her opinion on Murad’s music or rap in general.
If we look back at some of the recent Hindi films based on music, it’ll be interesting to note the range. Aashiqui 2 is the only one that focusses on both the hero and heroine’s musical journey and is an emotional heartfelt story of two people bound by music. The texture of the film is intense yet romance remains the central theme. Rock On!! has some fabulous songs with its focus on the four friends and how they navigate the trials and tribulations of life. Ranbir Kapoor’s Rockstar was all about the troubled singer who expresses his angst through music. In one the film’s most iconic scenes the importance of heartbreak in making great music is spoken about.
After the movie, I researched ‘clean rap for kids’ for the offspring and rap songs by both male and female artists and have got myself quite a playlist (including Naezy and Divine’s work). I am also inspired to watch Kya Bolta Bantai a documentary on the Mumbai hip-hop scene, which also features Zoya Akhtar for a bit.
This film has romance, passion, friendship and a gully boy that’ll get you interested in rap, despite yourself