Incredible story, splayed across the screen, the entire spectrum of India’s predilections, intransigent traditions, contemporary culture; miraculously, even if you have never graced this remarkable, multi-faceted country, “Gully Boy” brilliantly, presciently, metaphorically, gifts viewers a redolent insight into the real India; director Zoya Akhtar stunningly, visually portrays in 2 1/2 hours what authors Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Vikram Seth, Rohinton Mistry and others, took volumes to dissect India’s essence.
Inhaling the dust and industry of the Dharavi slum, in the core of Mumbai, “Murad” (galvanizing depiction by Ranveer Singh), progeny of a lesser “caste”, struggles to attain a college degree, but unknown to his family, his passionate proclivity is “rap”; his girlfriend of nine years, (since the age of thirteen) volatile, jealous “Safeena” (Alia Bhatt, outstanding, per usual), studying to be a surgeon, is closeted by conservative, traditional parents.
“Gully Boy” loosely based on Indian rappers Divine and Naezy (Eastern prototypes of Western’s Eminem and Kendrick Lamar); rap is rhythmic, poetic chanted street vernacular; significantly, it defines the boundaries, lifestyles of the disenfranchised, marginalized but requires indefatigable creativity, energy, synchronized spontaneity; fearlessly voicing one’s pained, inauspicious existence, spewing hidden foibles, hatreds, frustrations, fears of a castrated future. It is brutal, profane but truth is never obfuscated by fantasy, fallacy; souls stripped bare, bleeding for all to see.
“Gully” costar Siddhant Chaturvedi, “MC/SHER” , gives an electrifying performance as a talented, titillating rapper and guru behind Murad’s prophetic unshackling; it is Ranveer Singh, his every moment, slathered with intensity, empathy that drives “Gully Boy” to Bollywood heights; his final act, matches Rami Malek’s in “Bohemian Rhapsody”; indicative of Murad’s philosophy, to never shape your dreams around your reality; your reality must be fashioned by your dreams!
FOUR & 1/2 STARS!!!!