When Ranveer Singh rapped his way through his first commercial ever (for a condom brand), how many of us envisioned him doing the same as a Bollywood ‘hero’? He’s doing exactly that in Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, where he plays a kohl-eyed Dharavi boy, fully immersed into poetry and his indefatigable enthusiasm for hip-hop.
It’s the story of many boys in Asia’s largest slum establishment, and a genre that similarly emerged in the Bronx during the 1970s. After two loud ‘commercial’ roles in the likes of Padmaavat and Simmba, Ranveer Singh seems to have gone back into his Lootera shell.
And boy, does it work wonders for the role! We watch Ranveer Singh channeling ALL his energy into enunciating verses, lines, words. Each word with more passion (one would imagine that’s what essentially makes rap such a distinct genre of music). Mind you, this is just to tease the trailer announcement on January 9. But Akhtar’s already given us a taste of the world she’s looking to explore, and no one would hold it against her if she chose to directly release the film after this.
The world gets its texture from the characters around Ranveer Singh – including the likes of Alia Bhatt, Kalki Koechlin, Vijay Raaz, Amruta Subhash and Siddhant Chaturvedi (who made a fabulous debut in Inside Edge – also produced by Excel Entertainment). Any self-respecting Zoya Akhtar fan remembers Arjun Mathur’s character from Luck By Chance, and the prospect of a similar conflict between Ranveer & Siddhant seems delicious.
A lot of the ‘original’ hip-hop music stemmed from continuous, systemic oppression. And therefore it’s exciting that the sound and the lingo of a few boys (with limited means) from a few ghettos of Mumbai, is going to be main-staged in a Hindi film. One can be hopeful that a filmmaker like Akhtar will delve into the politics of a place like Dharavi, and the inherent classicism that birthed the genre. It’s a sprawling canvas.
An industry that very rarely indulges a voice of its own, to see Ranveer sing his way to the ‘good life’… this has the potential to become a pan-India revolution. Zoya Akhtar and Ranveer Singh are sparking this thing off, and the time seems absolutely ripe for it. The universe stands aligned for Gully Boy.
Watch the teaser for Gully Boy here:
If you need more convincing, the trailer will drop on January 9. Gully Boy releases on February 14.