Murad (Ranveer Singh) is a lower-middle-class boy living in the slums of Dharavi, Mumbai with his family around whom his life revolves along with his friends and his girlfriend Safeena (Alia Bhatt). He has a penchant for writing deeply insightful poems but he never really voices them on his own. However, one day he stumbles upon a revered rapper Shrikant aka MC Sher (Siddhant Chaturvedi) who eventually becomes his friend and guides him into becoming a rap star.
Positive Points: –
- The stupendous performance by the cast as a whole. Of course, each actor has been brilliant in his/her work but their flawless chemistry with one another just adds the icing on the cake.
- Surely, the movie has a main character and the plot revolves around him but that doesn’t prevent it from giving chances to other people to come up and shine. In other words, I loved the way the characters shuffle in taking the centre stage.
- The direction, the writing, and the music are optimum for the plot and even for the people involved in it.
- The film, the story, the characters, sort of everything in Gully Boy resounds with the emotions of the viewers which is what results in a spellbinding experience.
Negative Points: –
- At 155 minutes, Gully Boy is sort of over-stretched. The weight of time is felt at times despite its engrossing nature. Did anyone just say irony?!
- Don’t look out for any kind of novelty here. The movie is as mainstream as it can be. There’s nothing remotely new in any of its elements which have been done in cinema since its inception.
- I wished the film could explore more about the rap and hip-hop culture across the country rather than focusing on different plot points that albeit sterling bear no consequence to its main theme.
The General Aspects: –
Music has been an integral part of Indian culture and not merely Indian films alone. Though both our film and music industries have churned out innumerable songs that are acoustically pleasing, rapping hasn’t really been our strength. Given the fact how many so-called rappers in India have marred the idea of rap with their vacuous lyrics and rakish songs, a movie like Gully Boy which seeds in the correct notion of the same is no less than a breath of fresh air. Its soundtrack is first-rate and the combination of meaningful lyrics, trippy beats and energetic vocals is simply majestic and it’s only fair if you leave the theatre with its songs and tunes still on your lips. The rap battles between various artists in the movie are also delightful and invigorating to watch. However, it’s not music or rap battles where Gully Boy solely triumphs. Zoya Akhtar’s direction, her screenplay along with Reema Kagti, and Vijay Maurya’s dialogues, all win a hand in making the film better. Akhtar and Kagti don’t simply streamline the narrative into a chasing success story rather include a lot of plot points and characters who become instrumental in creating some sort of emotional connection with its viewers at certain points of time. They don’t restrict the film to one’s passion but extend it to love, friendship and responsibilities also. The characters are flawed in their own build-up as well as the way they relate with others, and that persists even as the film ends showing that in the real world everything is not necessarily perfect or righteous or unblemished. The best example of the same can be the character Moeen (played by Vijay Varma) and his camaraderie with Murad. Adding to the crisp are the dialogues penned by Maurya (who also has a blazing cameo) which are terse, quirky and undeniably funny while also hard-hitting owing to their relatable nature. What’s even better is how powerful lines are distributed between various characters and not just the lead ones thus giving each of them ample opportunities to shine. Every character that could have had any kind of importance is not merely restricted as a support for its protagonist. Each one is given a chance to portray his/her tribulations, struggles and emotions in a compendious manner thus facilitating the various plot arcs that the narrative endures over a long period of time.
That being said, one might think whether Gully Boy really needed a multi-plot narrative to achieve the audience’s appreciation. The answer to it can be relative and the reason for the lack of unanimity is because of the overall finesse that the movie exhibits. In my opinion, I would have been more satisfied if Gully Boy was entirely on the rap and hip-hop culture in India and a strive to ameliorate the image of the same in the country. Instead, the film covers a lot of threads such as Moeen’s illegal activities, Murad’s family turbulences, Safeena’s character arc, and the like, which, notwithstanding their excellence, were simply not required if one expected the movie to be completely dedicated to music. The narrative-jumps from one thread to the other is what makes the film heavy on time despite its engrossing nature. Taking into consideration that the makers haven’t incorporated anything outside the realms of mainstream filmmaking, I believe that the same excellence could have been achieved if they could show how the underground rap addas in the country perform and depict the lives of different people associated with it and not simply those of Murad and Shrikant.
Gully Boy has many positive traits but three of them can be considered as its strongest pillars – Soundtrack (rap battles included), Dialogues, and of course Performances. There’s a lot to discuss on the performances of the cast. While most actors in here are yet to make it big in Bollywood, their collective effort with the veterans and the young stars make the film a pleasing ensemble.
First Khilji in Padmaavat, then the titular character in Simmba, and now as Murad in Gully Boy, Ranveer Singh has performed three radically different personalities with impeccable perfection and has easily left us in awe in all of his acts without any room for criticism. What I love about him is that he has grown drastically as an actor and though he loves to enact larger than life roles, he is equally competent in playing more natural and nuanced characters like Murad with equal finesse. He is not only brilliant but also magnetic and he performs like a true rockstar in Gully Boy much to the delight of his fans and critics alike.
Alia Bhatt is admirable as ever. She is fiery, enviably confident and delivers a character of mixed traits effortlessly. She may be aggressive and manipulative for most of her screentime, yet she exudes enough charm to render herself lovable to the viewer. Siddhant Chaturvedi makes a terrific debut and as Shrikant aka MC Sher, he enjoys his moments of spotlight despite the towering presence of Singh. Vijay Raaz is stellar as the angry and dominating father of Murad. Interestingly, with his rendition, he too dominates the screen and enjoys quite some shades as a character. Amruta Subhash, who plays the role of Murad’s mother is also superb in her depiction of love and pain owing to her tremulous marital life. Vijay Varma, on the other hand, gives an intense performance as Moeen who like Aftab has his shares of rights and wrongs, yet is able to convince the viewers to sympathise with him on most grounds.
There are several other actors like Sheeba Chaddha, Vijay Maurya, Kalki Koechlin, Shrishti Shrivastava and Nakul Roshan Sahdev who despite their short stints have accomplished in making their presence felt.
Final Verdict: –
It’s easy to pick up issues in Gully Boy but it’s difficult to not like it. One may have his/her own expectations from it and may have witnessed them not being fulfilled, but his/her overall experience of the film is anything but disappointing. This Zoya Akhtar’s directorial is an exceptional piece of cinema-work which despite its mainstream narrative stands out on its own and gives us an experience to be cherished for a long long time. Gully Boy may not be the best film based on music but it’ll set a high bar for future films of the same genre in the Indian film industry and we only have to wait and watch as to what happens next.