'Gully Boy' review: Ranveer delivers soul-stirring performance
Ranveer bares his soul out in this well-crafted film.
Gully Boy traces the story of Murad (Ranveer Singh), who comes from the slums of Dharavi. He firmly believes that you need to change your reality to match your dreams and not the other way round, like his father (Vijay Raaz) advocates.
He always has a diary handy and scribbles poetry in his moments of quick reflection and darkness of the night. The diary is a depository of his angst, his disappointments, his helplessness in dire situations and also, his dreams.
It is in this diary that he writes, "Apna Time Aayega" (My time will come) for the first time and goes on rap the same lines to win a competition in the climax.
He finds his inspiration in a budding rapper, MC Sher (Siddhant Chaturvedi), who he sees performing for the first time at a college festival. Together with him, he finds the rhythm to his words - a tempo to his poetry. He plays mentor to Murad, prepares him for rap battles and graciously pushes him ahead when his novice friend gets better than him.
Murad goes through a journey of self-discovery as he becomes 'Gully Boy'. Ranveer Singh portrays the artist with all honesty through his rap, body language, attitude, and expressions. We see his vulnerability in the initial scenes as he doesn't agree to his friend (Vijay Varma) when he steals cars or uses children in his drug business. Murad is powerless when his father gets a younger wife in their barely sufficient, already congested home or when he has to take up driving because his father ends up fracturing his leg. Despite the odds, Gully Boy is the story of an underdog with a conviction to chase his passion and who dares to dream.
Safeena (Alia Bhatt) is Murad's possessive girlfriend and knows exactly what she wants in life. She wants to be a surgeon, set up her practice and get married to Murad. Also called 'Danger Aapa', she is temperamental and can break a glass bottle on a girl's head if she comes close to her lover.
Their love story is real, relatable as they share headphones and listen to the same song, with his fingers entangled. Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti weave a delicate love story, making sure we don't digress from Murad's journey. Ranveer and Alia's chemistry comes alive in the scenes like the recording of the song 'Doorie', his winning performance in the finale, the couple talking on the phone while he is below her house in true Romeo style or they stealing glances at railway stations and bus stops. Together for nine years, this school sweethearts don't have to engage in public display of affection to make you believe in their story.
Ranveer leads the film and raps his soul out, whenever given a chance. Two scenes particularly stayed with me - first, when he raps for the very first time at an informal rap battle with underground artists and secondly when he raps at a national-level competition.
But equally impressive is Siddhant Chaturvedi, who is a show-stealer in the scenes he shares with Ranveer. He is fiercely passionate and looks like a true musician with the confidence he exudes while rapping. Kalki Koechlin has a shorter role as the music producer named Sky, but leaves a lasting impression with her rich-girl act. She is securely comfortable in portraying supporting roles in films and yet manages to add to the narrative. Same can be said about Alia, who often blends in the background and yet emerges stronger.
Gully Boy, the album, has 19 tracks and it elevates the film to another level. Compiled with a well-curated mix of underground rappers, multiple composers, lyricists, music producers (often on a single song), the music is refreshing. You can't help but tap your feet and groove to the hip-hop beats as the film effectively uses it as a cushion.
The winning combination of writers, Zoya Akhtar, and Reema Kagti, bring to us a well-crafted story from the streets of Bombay. It has enough clap-worthy dialogues that keep you engaged. With the perfect cast in the lead, it would be criminal to miss watching this film on the big screen.
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Vijay Raaz, Kalki Koechlin
Directed by: Zoya Akhtar