'Gully Boy' gets his beats right

'Gully Boy' gets his beats right

A still from 'Gully Boy'.

Film: Gully Boy
Hindi (U/A)
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Kalki Koechlin, Vijay Raaz
Director: Zoya Akhtar

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

This underdog barks up the right tree. And everybody listens up. Only that it takes a helluva lot of howling and snarling before he could sink his teeth into some meaty stuff.

Gully Boy (Ranveer Singh) is an active volcano. Much of the lava flows out of pent-up emotions brought about by poverty — he lives in the Dharavi slum where every square inch is filled with frustrated humans and their greasy belongings.

The rest of the angst comes from class divide (driver-father Vijay Raaz hammers in aukat lessons every day) and toxic tongues (enough-is-enough mother Amruta Subhash shouts that her husband doesn’t know how to touch her the right way, as he gets inside a matchbox-sized bedroom with a brand new second wife).

Ranveer’s only sunshine is his gundi of a girlfriend Alia Bhatt (terrific), who doesn’t mind breaking a bottle or two on the head of any woman even remotely making a pass at her most prized possession. But the rippling chemistry and raw kisses don’t even once keep the slumdog away from dirty truths. "I'll soon become a surgeon and our life will be set," beams medical student Alia. But for Ranveer, rap is the only redemption.

Zoya Akhtar strikes an altogether different chord with her latest. An ode to Bombay's real hip-hop stars Divine and Naezy, Gully Boy is a U-turn from Zoya’s rich and affluent Bollywood portrait. And she merits credit for a convincing shot.

Much of the pathos is beautifully brought alive by Ranveer Singh, in another pleasant deviation. The otherwise boisterous actor restrains himself (a little too restrained in fact) to portray slow-starter Murad, who finds his rhythm and lyrics after several jamming sessions in shanties and dingy studios.

Kalki Koechlin, the US-based music scholar, offers Ranveer a peek into the "other side" of art. But here, the one who grabs the mic and eats his cake is Siddhant Chaturvedi. As MC Sher, the man sets some healthy goals for his protege.

Gully Boy breaks free and takes street to mainstream. The music is loud and clear: it’s okay to rebel, to desire, to dream on. Just rap!