Director: Zoya Akhtar
Ranveer Singh as Murad Ahmed
Alia Bhatt as Safeen
Kalki Koechlin as Sky
Siddhant Chaturvedi as MC Sher
Vijay Raaz as Aftab
Vijay Varma as Moeen Arif
Amruta Subhash as Razia
Ikhlaque Khan as Nasir
Sheeba Chaddha as Hamida
Mohan's Measure ✳ ✳ ✳ ✳
"The Revolution ain't gonna be televised "...
So, it seems someone in India not only watched but picked up on what the Black Panther was saying. Better yet, they were inspired enough by it to make Gully Boy.
You can almost interchange the Dharavi slums with the inner city of Detroit. The pollution, trash ridden streets, and the bitter struggle of poverty are common to both. But, in Mumbai, the way out lies just beyond one's reach, in a rich so filthy they put to shame the streets of Dharavi. It is in the stark contrast between the hedonistic self gratification of the rich against the religious underpinnings of the poor which makes India unique unto itself. But in the shared common humanity of urban life, there is one panacea, music.
But, let's face it. Neither ghazals nor kritis represent what the people of the streets are all about. No, this music needs bring out expressions of anger and frustration, hopelessness and aspiration; looking for a solution knowing that it's meant only for a few. The music is hip-hop, rap, the music of the street.
Ranveer Singh puts to shame any other actor the director could have picked for this role. Murad is understated, decidedly Muslim, unsure about himself, and waiting for that one moment, that one miracle, which will bring him out of his ongoing misery.
That miracle is Shrikant, aka MC Sher. He is less Indian than he is Afro-centric and he know he's found a winner in Murad. He gives him the name Gully Boy and builds in him an anger and a willingness to express the emotions of the nonsense of life, love, and the immeasurable level of ordinariness which is India's lower strata.
Be thankful this isn't a Dev Patel move. This is the real India, where people may not have enough food on the table, but you couldn't pry the smart phone away from them to trade for it. It is an India where dealing drugs is as much a way to earn a living as studying to be a doctor, and the mean streets offer respect to those who know them.
Ms. Bhatt, plays Safeena, the aspiring doctor and much needed love interest, in such an understated and believable way, the actress can actually impress. A wonderful set of two-fold emotions surround her like an aura - as a girlfriend in willing to watch her man succeed, and as one uncertain of what he is becoming.
And in the becoming, Gully Boy becomes a man, stands on his own, brings tears of pride to his parents, and truly appreciable meaning to well-written, beautifully presented, but blatantly raw work of art.