Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy is the story of a young man breaking free through street rap. Written by the director with Reema Kagti, the film shines light on hard realities of slum life and how, over the years, underprivileged and minorities have been made invisible in mainstream Bollywood. With strong performances by Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt alike, the film is receiving praises from all quarters.
Here are some excerpts of the reviews from popular Indian publications:
Times of India: An entertaining and engaging look at the world of Indian rappers
The driving force of the film though is the performance by Ranveer Singh. He was born to play this part and the way he raps his soul out in the film, makes it a killer set. He breathes life, despair, euphoria and belief into his role. A line in the film where MC Sher tells Murad says, ‘Tere andar toofan hai’ is bang on. With every new performance, the actor brings in a tidal wave of surprises. Equally brilliant is Alia Bhatt, in a smaller, but deeply impactful role.
Film Companion: A superb love letter to the spirit of Mumbai
Safeena is one of the best characters that Alia Bhatt has played. She’s spirited, ambitious and a ‘gundi’ in the best sense of the word. She’s a girl from a conservative Muslim family who is determined to forge her own destiny. She charts the course of their relationship. Alia beautifully captures Safeena’s exquisite eccentricity. There is an endearing unpredictability about her. You genuinely have no idea what she will do next.
Hindustan Times: Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt raise the roof with a great musical
Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, an underdog story shining a light on India’s incipient hip-hop subculture, is the first great Hindi film of 2019 and a rousing celebration of spunk. The writing is enthralling, the texture fantastic, and this world is a revelation. Here are characters without room to breathe who express themselves breathlessly, through a style of music that has always belonged to the marginalised. Dissent finds a way — and a beat.
Rediff Movies: You’ll cry for Ranveer
Film-maker Zoya Akhtar, top of her game more than ever, is an expert at peering into souls, relating their inner conflict and sympathetic of their torment. She does so spectacularly and stylishly in Gully Boy while also bringing Mumbai’s underground rap scene into mainstream consciousness. Between rap battles and hip hop competitions, the sledging showdowns showcase the might of Mumbai’s street slang, a lingo so one-of-a-kind, it is a privilege if you understand and pleasure if you speak it. Teeming with socio-political heft and dark horse dynamism, the extensive soundtrack put together by an eclectic mix of wordsmiths and musicians is the heartbeat of Gully Boy. And Zoya’s script soaks its fierce energy to provide majority of the subtext. The underdog fairy-tale packs in such exhilarating sound and spirit, you’ll leave the theatre thumping to its beat.
The Indian Express: This is a film to enjoy
My minor quibble with this film is in the ways Akhtar plays safe: the father who is so against his son coming improbably around feels like squaring the circle to keep us happy. Some of the predictable arcs, are, well, predictable. But, ultimately this is a film to enjoy. In today’s India, to bring a Murad and Safeena, their Muslim-ness a matter-of-fact statement, into centre-stage, to give traction to those who live on the wrong side of the tracks, is an act of bravery.