#Crucial21DbW: Gully Boy directed by Zoya Akhtar

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Gully Boy is the story of a young rapper, Murad, and Safina, his girlfriend, which follows their life as Murad gets discovered for his rapping talent, finds his voice and becomes a break-out rap artist.

Murad is the eldest son in a not well-to-do family based in the slums of Mumbai. While he is continuing his college education, there is pressure on him to start earning via a stable job. In his home we see domestic violence and his father’s marrying a second wife much to his mother’s dismay. Safina is a hot-headed medical student, relatively well-off and fighting patriarchal expectations and boundaries in her life. Murad and Safina are in a tumultuous relationship which sees its ups and downs as Murad learns to turn his poetry into rap, find his tribe of artists and navigate a new identity. The words Murad writes for his rap songs highlight all that is going through his mind as he galivants across Mumbai with friends who only care about their next party or joint while he worries about his next meal. The evolution of Murad from shy rapper with a fire inside him to an explosive performer, bringing out his frustration and ambition through his rap, is a joy to watch. Safina’s journey towards self-awareness as she gains confidence in herself and finds a way to continue pursuing her dream is inspiring to many young women in India who face the same challenges.

The film explores the serious issues of class discrimination, poverty and lack of opportunity by a very real portrayal of life in the slums of Mumbai. With subtle screenplay and dialogue, it highlights the disparities between the urban rich and urban poor, while showing the similarity of their aspirations. The music holds the film together and drives the narrative, as we hold our breath and root for Murad to win the final rap battle, making him a star in the rap scene. The film portrays the two worlds of India–one with abundant opportunity and one with hopes and dreams.

Gully Boy is available to stream on Amazon Prime. Follow Zoya Ahktar on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and follow Gully Boy on Facebook.

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