- Critic's Rating - 8.5/108.5/10
“Kaun bola, kaun bola?
Mujhse na ho payega!”
I couldn’t have asked for a better note to start expressing my views on Zoya Akhtar’s latest directorial, than what commences the anthem ‘Apna time aayega’ too.
Why? Because these above lines are probably her reply too to those who have always been claiming that she makes only “urban” movies. She’s done it now, and how hard hitting an experience this is.
In its entirety, the movie has so many layers to its writing (by Reema Kagti), which get wonderfully portrayed on celluloid under the master execution of Zoya. Loosely based on the journey of rappers Divine and Naezy, she never lets the movie come across as a mere underdog’s story of his claim to fame. Like every other world that Zoya creates, it has several themes besides the same, revolving around several relatable humane characters; eventually making this story about our ‘Gully Boy’, but not entirely about him.
The central character namely ‘Murad’ (Ranveer Singh) is not even the first character in the movie who gets introduced to us. He’s there in the frame though, but gets captured (through the lens of cinematographer Jan Oza) as just another human around in this world of rags. And just when the focus shifts to him, we see Ranveer (thankfully) not adding any over the top antics to his part; instead making us believe that he is Murad, an underconfident yet ambitious Dharavi lad. Clearly at his best, he sticks to a vulnerable body language, which so well complemented the vibe around his part, what his world of narrow lanes of Dharavi was about. To his credit, the pain and anger was subtly expressed through his eyes (though not better than Ranbir Kapoor in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’s title track), but the moment the same translates into his rap, the expression turns all loud and unabashed.
Few minutes into the narrative, and we get to know that the movie is a love story too. Murad is shown in a long – term relationship with the unapologetic ‘Safeena’, whose portrayal was on the able shoulders of Alia Bhatt. For the portrayal is done by Alia, trust her to break down convincingly with non – repetitive mannerisms. I loved the imagery of how the wrapping of “Hijaab” round her head brought out the ‘strong’ version of her in front of the world, but when she lets all her emotions flow in secrecy, the same happens to her hair too.
By the end of first act, Murad gets a mentor and supporter in ‘MC Sher’ by his side, played by the debutant Siddhant Chaturvedi. In no way does his act feel as a ‘first time’, as he just walks and talks with all sheer confidence and much unapologetically (everyone in this world one was rather unapologetic about being themselves!). With an act so powerful and plausible, he effortlessly matches the high (sometimes very high too) energy of Ranveer.
Murad once merely rises, and gets introduced to ‘Sky’, portrayed by Kalki Koechlin (A clear Zoya favorite). What I loved more than her effortless act was the case of her name vs her role in the movie. Being on a distinctive tone from rest of the characters in the movie, she had a different way to express her rebel : painting the street walls red (taking the ‘Paint it Red’ anthem from ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ literally). Finding some banners or pamphlets clichély misleading, she sprayed them black, overwriting on them her own alternative views. Simultaneously, the ‘Gully Boy’ had just rose, and he got close to ‘Sky’. So, here he knew that he can be in her vicinity for the moment, but that clearly was not everlasting; considering the ‘ground’ where he had come from.
After long due, Vijay Raaz got a role here (as Murad’s frustrated and violent father) matching his caliber. Watch out for his pre – climax sequence with Ranveer! Sheeba Chaddha got little to do as Safeena’s ‘slap rather than say’ mother, but satisfactory.
Being all about music, the narrative got me tapping my foot to those peppy hip – hop beats, which later get complemented by raw rap (by Divine) to soulful poetry (penned by Javed Akhtar). Special love for keeping the background score quite low throughout the proceedings, which made way for everything to be expressed through the lines and music, which eventually escalates the impact of the movie. Now, with so much to convey just through the lines, the soundtrack has been cleverly blended in the narrative. Other than the obvious ‘Apna time aayega’, my other favorite from the soundtrack is ‘Doori’ song. The entire car sequence prior to this track has been magically created, with right expression of emotions through the right lines injected at right runtime.
With so many emotions and layered themes getting explored so authentically, I failed to realize the movie had a runtime of over 155 minutes; until it ended at an all-time high of adrenaline rush. With the final sequence song of ‘Apna time aayega’, I was singing aloud along with the crowd and Ranveer; where the movie just suddenly ended with a bang, leaving me grasping for more. Kudos to Zoya and her team for delivering what I expected. It’s hard to find faults here!
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