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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Gully Boy: Speaking the Language of the Common Man & Indian Youth

Gully Boy unites Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt for the first time and also stars the talented Kalki Koechlin.

Farhan Akhtar’s production is about a 22-year-old man (Ranveer Singh) from a ghetto in Mumbai.

The man is a rapper, and the story is his journey from realising his love for rap, to chasing his dream and to inadvertently transcending his class.

Authentic Hip Hop in India is a recent phenomenon and like anywhere else in the world, is rising from the streets.

It is the only true political space in music right now and it’s coming from people that have nothing to lose, the colonised poor.

The trailer released and like every other Zoya Akhtar directorial, this also promises to be another journey of self-discovery. 

Filme Shilmy reflects how the film could connect with the Indian audiences.

Showcases Mumbai’s Hip-Hop culture 

Desi hip-hop is one of the fastest growing independent genres at many big music labels and Indian digital music platforms.

According to media reports and research, the desi hip-hop culture has evolved from these Mumbai slums and alleyways.

The story of Gully Boy is said to be inspired by rappers Divine and Naezy.

Both of them were born in the murky gullies of Mumbai’s biggest slums and have inspired all the other street kids by becoming famous as rappers.

With hardly any schools, poor sanitation and deprivation.

As such, the slum kids who were engulfed by poverty became easy targets for all kinds of criminal activities.

However, out of the slime and grime, a new trend emerged as the two ‘gully boys’ refused the world of crime and have poured in their passion and angst in desi hip hop.

 Both the rappers didn’t allow negativity or backlash impact their passion and love for rap music.

Appealing to the Common Man

Going by the trailer, it seems like Gully Boy has been shot in authentic and realistic locations… From the alleyways, chawls and slums (possibly in Dharavi).

The idea of ordinary, working-class people fighting hard to pursue a dream is a universal theme.

More importantly, this Zoya Akhtar film offers a route of escapism through realism.

We see an ambitious man hoping that ‘Apna Time Aayega’ (our time will come).

He channels his frustration of daily life through rap and that’s when the real artist comes out.

The ‘Aam Janta’ seeing this will not only witness their surroundings but is not solely restricted to that style of life.

Gully Boy highlights the hope that there can be a life beyond the gullies and alleyways.

Moreover, the use of colloquial words and like ‘Bhidu’, ‘Ghanta’, and ‘Waat’ call out to all the Mumbaikars.

The movie seems to shatter the stereotypes of people living in the lesser well-off areas of Mumbai.

It smartly avoids narrating a Slumdog Millionaire style of a story.

Reaches out to the Indian Youth

Zoya Akhtar’s films always appeal to the youth, especially ventures like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.

It is interesting how we see conflicts between a father and their child in Akhtar’s films.

We saw this clash in her segment of Bombay Talkies and Dil Dhadakne Do. 

This parent-child disagreement is depicted in Ranveer’s character.

As such, the role is of a driver’s son, who cannot concentrate much on studies and wishes to become a rapper.

Furthermore, he defies studying and pursuing a mundane life of earning money for the sake of it.

His spirit of not allowing others to validate or tell him his life-status is a fervour which will resonate with the youth.

Alia Bhatt plays a student named Safeena. Despite wearing a hijab and seeing suitors, she refuses to be restricted by society’s status quo.

Watch Gully Boy trailer here!

There is a rebellious fire of ambition burning in both the characters and this sentiment could appeal to the youth.

Subsequently, this movie could motivate youngster to pursue their dreams, regardless of their circumstances in life.

In addition, there seems to be a vast interest for rap music amidst the youth.

Particularly, there is also a liking for western rappers like Eminem, Tupac and Drake (to name a few).

Given that artists like Badshah and Raftaar have risen to fame in recent times, this makes Gully Boy quite relatable and relevant for the youth.

Ranveer (who also raps in the film) and Alia are the perfect youth-icons for this role.

Both actors are free-spirited, exceeded expectations with their performances and are incredibly popular.

Overall, Gully Boy promises to be a film that exceeds the poverty, grit and gullies.

It aims to be a relatable and hopeful movie for the Indian audiences, especially the youth.

The movie premieres at the Berlin Film Festival and will officially release on 14th February 2019.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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