The proposition of hope is emblematic for India's film industry where the antagonist, and even the protagonist, may die, but faith never will. Maybe that's why 'Apna Time Aayega' resonated with the audience -- so much so that it became an anthem.
"My time will come..." -- there's a pain in this statement. You know the probability of you winning is .5 (50 per cent), as is for losing. But you hope. You hope for a brighter future. This was, perhaps, director Zoya Akhtar's vision when she began penning the script of the movie 'Gully Boy' with her associate Reema Kagti.
Akhtar is no stranger to emphasising YOLO -- You Only Live Once. So, hope -- it will hold up your world. In her 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara', her Arjun, Kabir and Imran teach the audience that indeed, life comes only once. A lesson well learnt. In 'Gully Boy', Zoya moves on to more real themes, and to more real locales.
Set in Mumbai, the boy of the gully is Murad -- who once asks his father: "Abb koi doosra mujhe bataayega meri aukaat kya hai? [Now, will others tell me what my stature is?]"
Murad is a dreamer, who must challenge the concept of his pre-decided destiny. He leaves an almost well-paying job where he works as a sales representative -- and dares to live his dream.
He makes it to the finals of a contest where the winner gets Rs 10 lakh; and wins it.
This happens in the climax, but before this could materialise, in a moving scene towards the end, he declares he is not a ghulam [slave] and that his only way to exit this condition of his is rapping his way to glory.
Nothing comes easy. Murad strives for it; fights his father, his pre-decided fate and sometimes, his inner demons.
In the first half of the movie, when Murad is working as a driver, he is reminded of his status -- that of a driver -- and is asked to not come in the way of the elites making way to the club.
He quietly goes and sits inside the car and raps "Apna Time Aayega [My time will come]" for the first time and reprises it later when is scheduled to perform at the finals of the rap battle. It was then when the country met with the enthem of the hopefuls -- Apna Time Aayega, Kaun Bola Mujhse Na Ho Paayega...
Cut to -- when the daughter of his boss comes out of the club crying, Murad wants to ask her what was wrong, probably wants to console her. But cannot. He wonders. And we smile.
The words written by DIVINE and Javed Akhtar give voice to what Murad thinks: "Abb dekho toh hum paas lekin, socho kitni doori hai. Abb kaisi yeh majboori hai, socho kitni doori hai."
Class difference. Kyun hai yeh? Kaun laaya hai? Koi nahin jaanta. And nobody tries to alleviate it. We function with it. Somehow. Everyday.
The beauty of the movie gets more linear with its other characters. Safeena, Murad's fiesty girlfriend, who does not think twice before breaking into a fight if it is about him.
Safeena Firdausi is by far the boldest Muslim girl shown on screen. Her identity is not used to evoke emotions, but it does break the stereotype and monotony of Muslim women in Bollywood.
Even Kalki Koechlin's Shweta 'Sky' Mehta is no ordinary woman. She and Murad get close but she does not use this as an emotional tool to blackmail him into a relationship. She, instead, understands his commitment towards Safeena, and the fact that a momentary infatuation cannot shake it. She lets him go.
Siddhant Chaturvedi's MC Sher is the most giving friend in Bollywood's recent diaries, for he teaches how to guide a bright student into glory without demanding recognition for himself. Kingmaker MC Sher is who you would want as a life-long friend.
Vijay Varma's Moeen is dichotomous. His friendship with Murad even more so. They don't conform to each other's perspectives about life. But maybe that's what true friendship is about -- humko toh yaari se matlab hai... Yaar ho kaisa bhi, chaahe jhootha hi sahi...
Amruta Subhash and Vijay Raaz as Murad's parents and an unhappy couple are also worth mentioning, and appreciating.
'Gully Boy' is inspired by the trials and tribulations of rappers Naezy and DIVINE aka Vivian Fernandes. "I had no idea of the underground hip-hop scene [in Mumbai] until I saw a video of Naezy. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I kept digging on YouTube, and my interest kept going on. A film is about what turns you on, about what you get excited about. Your head space changes," Zoya once said, in an interview.
With 'Gully Boy', Zoya brought hip-hop to the forefront and centre in a Bollywood film. Yes, rap did exist before this -- Yo Yo Honey Singh, Raftaar, and Badshah among others have been the harbingers of rap in India, but what the movie did was to bring a kind of dignity to the art.
"From a music point of view, Bollywood is validating our music now; they are recognising our music. Now the masses too will also listen to our music," Naezy aka Naved Sheikh had said, after the movie's release.
'Gully Boy' is a sentiment, an emotion and it being nominated as India's official entry for the 92nd Academy Awards in the Best International Feature Film category is a testament to the cult status it has acquired. It is no run-of-the-mill rags-to-riches story. It's a dream -- it's Akhtar's painstaking courage, it's ensemble star cast's dedication and main 'boy' Ranveer's honest portrayal of Murad.
Please do yourself a favour, and watch the movie and know for yourself why it was pushed as India's official entry for Oscars 2020 -- a dais to international glory.