As I walked out of the theater after watching Gully Boy, a woman, exuberant after watching the movie, walked past me telling her friend, “Ranveer Singh is just unbelievable. I cannot just stop cheering for him.” I couldn’t agree with her more. Could anyone else have portrayed Murad better? Not for me. Anyone else and Gully Boy might not have come out as beautifully as it has. But I cannot stop gushing over Alia Bhatt. Alia, with her portrayal of Safeena, an ambitious, hardworking and a determinant young girl, has shown what she is capable of, or perhaps what only she is capable in the current batch of female Bollywood actors.
“Mere boyfriend ke saath gulu gulu karegi toh dhoptengi na usko,” Safeena aka Alia says with such boisterousness that despite her irrational behaviour, we laugh and cheer for her when she beats the girl who flirts with her boyfriend Murad (Ranveer). While Alia excels in bringing out the bold, upfront and reckless side of Safeena, she does an equally good job showing the vulnerability of her character. Be it her break up with Murad or her pleading to her mother to let her finish her studies and then get her married, Alia delvers a pitch-perfect performance.
Kudos to Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti who didn’t craft Alia’s character as just a demure young girl who enables the story of Gully Boy. When it comes to her ambition of being a doctor, it takes the top place. Be it with Murad, or without him, it doesn’t matter for her. She yearns to be an independent young woman who is ready to challenge the societal norms and fight her parents to live life on her own terms.
“Her ability to absorb the nuances and human mannerisms is immense. She is so wholesome as a character,” Ranveer Singh said about his co-actor while promoting the movie. Shah Rukh Khan, on Koffee With Karan, said about Alia, “She’s too good too soon,” and I agree with the stars after watching her owning every frame she is a part of in Gully Boy.
After Alia Bhatt, it was MC Sher aka Siddhant Chaturvedi who is difficult to miss in the Zoya Akhtar directorial. Sher (Chaturvedi) motivates Murad (Singh) to pursue his passion for rapping and introduces him to the world of street rappers in Mumbai. His introductory scene has him performing at Ranveer’s college fest and from the very first shot, he looks authentic as a care-free rapper. Sher tells Murad, “Tere andar ka lava fattne de (let the fire inside you explode)” and he says it with such conviction that not just Ranveer’s Murad but everyone watching the film somewhere feels the urge to fulfil one’s dreams.
Chaturvedi, who has proved his mettle in web series like Life Sahi Hai and Inside Edge, has given a finely caliberated performance as a street rapper and as a carefree man who lets his angst out in his rap songs. Chaturvedi ticks all the boxes that make him a potential future star in Hindi cinema. I hope the actor gets a wider platform to exhibit his talent.
The others who exude charisma on screen include Amruta Subhash and Vijay Raaz.
In the end, I didn’t walk out of the theater with only a fondness for Gully Boy but for everyone who was a part of his world.