Gully Boy — An Apolitical Movie ?

Gully Boy which released on 14th of February 2019 was one of the most awaited films of the year. The film is based on the lives of street rappers named Divine and Naezy. The movie revolves around the various financial and social struggles that they face while trying to make a place in the world. The plot is an inspiring story about rappers who wish to revolutionize the slums of Mumbai and introduce them to ‘asli hip-hop’. The story is not only about Murad, the protagonist played by Ranveer Singh and his accomplishments, but also about an individual who responds to his circumstances and expresses himself through his art. It is a cumbersome task to meet every minute detail in order to make the movie perfect, which included collaboration with artists to make the script sound ‘Bambaiyya’ and involve the real life gully rappers during the making of the movie.

Despite all the necessary fulfillment, the movie still lost its essence when the actors blatantly stated that they never really associated with the true essence of the movie. During the promotion of the film, in an interview by Anupama Chopra, when questioned about the political essence of the ‘gully rap’ in the song “Azadi”, Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh called it apolitical. This remark has created a pool of discourse all over the country as the lyrics of the song ‘Azadi’ is directly inspired from the former Union President of JNU, Kanhaiya Kumar’s slogan of azadi in the year 2016 which earned him the title of ‘anti-national’. The actors have added that they wish to draw a line between the personalities they imitate on screen and real life, and that they live as artists. Ranveer Singh also added that he is not qualified enough to comment on the socio-political theme of the song. When the singer Dub Sharma was questioned about the true essence of the song, he denied the rap of having any political aroma despite being a reminiscent of Kanhaiya Kumar’s “anti-national” slogan of 2016. He justifies by mentioning that he had completely differentiated the context of the song from that of the “anti-national” political slogan.

The song does possess an anti-government fragrance to it, because the lyrics of the song speak about the wrongdoings of the political leaders in power and accuse them of nepotism. When questioned about what exactly artist Dub Sharma wanted to convey through this song, he replied saying that people might have various interpretations to the song. Amidst all the criticism about the movie being apolitical or not, the movie does beautifully bring out a few fundamental problems. The movie focuses on providing a voice to the community that had been silenced for too long. Gully rappers through their talent can create a space to nurture their own cultural conversations and this movie could be seen as a  culmination of that legacy.

Throughout the course of the movie, it talks in length about the fundamental class-inequality that is prevalent in the Indian society. This movie strives at serving the interest of independent expression of art through cinematography to some extent. The movie also speaks about issues that mattered including the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. The Bollywood superstars are able to maintain the status quo while earning huge profits by fostering narratives that promise a progressive society in future. The industry has successfully served the citizens with empty rhetoric for progress while itself getting accustomed to the very segment that cause a drift between us and divide us. However, when Ranveer Singh in an interview openly stated that he was apathetic to the political essence of the movie, it loses its charm. While Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh  through their characters Murad and Safeena excellently portray the socio-political issues that exist within certain communities within the country, the movie Gully Boy loses its uniqueness when they declared that they did it without connecting with the community at all.

Picture Credits : indiatoday.in

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