“It is a story of a man you see on the side-lines while driving past the congested roads”
In Ratatouille Anton Ego famously said ‘Anyone can cook’. Gully Boy is a story of that “anyone”. It is a story of a man you see on the side-lines while driving past the congested roads that take you away from the dirt of the slums to the more comforting sights of skyscrapers.
Gully Boy is not interested in telling a particularly new story. The arc of Murad (Ranveer Singh) is dangerously similar to the countless ‘rags-to-riches’ stories that we have seen over the years. But in the hands of ZoyaAkhtar and ReemaKagti, the film finds a new life. They know how predictable the plot is, which is why they add something in the story that goes beyond the story. They focus on themes and characters, adding layers that make every frame of the film richer than any other ‘rags-to-riches’ story.
the protagonist finds himself in the centre of a dysfunctional family that has no regard for the talent he possesses. The answer is rooted in the socio-cultural surroundings of Murad, in something that he says early in the film to MC Sher (SiddhanthChaturvedi) – he is a poet first, a rapper later.
The art in Gully Boy comes from the surroundings of Murad. His words are the closest Murad can come to being a rebel. In his grandest performance yet he mouths ‘Apna Time Aayega’, for the struggle for him is more personal than societal.
In Safeena (Alia Bhatt) he has a strong partner who stands by him.
Akhtar seems to be developing a pattern here of Art that has no class. That can reside in the privileged landscapes of Spain as easily as in the claustrophobic lanes of Dharavi.
It is this art that stands in the way of Murad’s relationship with his father, Aftab Sheikh (Vijay Raaz). Art is essentially anti-establishment. It does not guarantee a constant paycheck and it makes you happy – two things the establishment stands in contradiction of. Aftab has internalized the system. His moral compass is determined by his surroundings. He is driven by a structure where it is acceptable for a man to marry a woman almost the age of his eldest son, but blasphemous for his son to record a song and upload it on social media.
Gully Boy ends in a beautiful way, robbing the audience of a melodramatic climax that one is sitting in anticipation of.Murad’s rise does not feel fantastical and yet it is mighty enough to make his story rousing. In Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, Jamal Malik wins because of the memory of his life experiences. In Gully Boy Murad churns out poetry from his reality. He is not a thinking poet, yet, there is a distinct political tone to his words. Maybe that’s what makes true rebels. A certain sense of unawareness about the magnitude of what they speak about.