By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | February 14, 2019

Rating: 4.5 / 5

4.5stars


The essence: Gully Boy is a celebration of life in Asia’s largest Slum. It does not demean the society but brings it to light in a beautiful manner without the frills and fancy of a typical Bollywood film. No naach gaana, no dishoom dishoom, just plain story-telling with its heart in the right place.


Gully Boy is not a movie. Gully Boy is life. Gully Boy has to be Zoya Akhtar’s best till date considering she never once lets you escape from the din of Dharavi, the slum in Mumbai in which the movie has been shot, and which forms the soul of the film. And even though it hinges on rap music, it beautifully explores the underbelly of the slum, bringing to life the people living there. Akhtar, partnering with Reema Kagti in the writing, with some very smart lines, along with cinematographer Jay Oza and Art Director Suzzanne Merwanji bring alive the slum in its entirety, without giving it a slumdog feel!

Murad (Ranveer Singh) lives in a cramped room with his mother, father, younger brother, grandmother and now a new mother. Life is not all that rosy. He is in his final year of college and is hooked onto rap music. He loves to write lyrics which flow straight from the heart. It is this journey of his, him trying to create an identity of his own, despite his own telling him that ‘this is his lot’ and he better accept it. Not Murad. He is respectful, at times living on the edge (but within limits) and has a love story brewing in his neighbourhood with Safeena (Alia Bhatt) a feisty girl, who loves to the point of being at fault and is fierce in her decision to be a doctor.

Zoya keeps you hooked onto the film right from the start and even though the second half does move on slowly, no one is complaining. She fleshes out the plot, building the characters beautifully, without being in a hurry, introducing key players and scenes at the right moment to keep the plot alive. What hooks you completely are the real locations and rooms she shoots in. It’s almost as if you are there with the characters in their homes.

She is not in a hurry to bring Ranveer’s Murad to the top, but painstakingly builds his graph whilst keeping a grip on his passion and monitoring the moves of the characters around him.

Ranveer Singh is in top form as his character moves track from Murad to Gully Boy without a jerk. There is no hurry in his demeanour to hit the high notes. He knows where he is coming from and he knows that where he wants to go to is a tough journey; he gives it his best shot. He bides his time, keeping his roots in check and never once crosses the limit. He is within Murad and he brings alive the character making you identify with him, and not the rock star persona that he is. A difficult proposition, but that is Ranveer Singh the actor, a complete opposite of what one saw of him in Zoya Akhtar’s last film, Dil Dhadakne Do.

Alia Bhatt as the feisty, fiery and in love Safeena is a joy to watch as she cuts through her character with professional ease making you love her and hate her at the same time and yet making you feel for her situation that she is in. Siddhanth Chaturvedi as MC Sher has to be the find of the film, a complete natural. At times it appears that he is the star of the film without trying to be one. Ranveer for his part underplays his character whenever he is around Siddhanth, almost playing the underdog which is what endears you to his Murad.

Vijay Varma is another actor who knocks his character with flamboyance yet maintaining the slum look. Vijay Raaz gets a role where he can display his characteristics as an actor rather than being a clone of his earlier role.

Gully Boy is a celebration of life in Asia’s largest Slum. It does not demean the society but brings it to light in a beautiful manner without the frills and fancy of a typical Bollywood film. No naach gaana, no dishoom dishoom, just plain story-telling with its heart in the right place.

If you don’t like rap music, I assure you, you will leave the theatre wanting to hear more of this genre.

Gully Boy is not a movie; it is life around you transferred onto the screen. Gully Boy is art at its best.


CREDITS
Producer: Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani, Zoya Akhtar
Director: Zoya Akhtar
Star Cast: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Siddhanth Chaturvedi, Vijay Varma, Vijay Raaz

Also Read: Manto Movie Review

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