Verdict: If the soul of hip hop were a film, it’d be Gully Boy.

Gully Boy embodies Lupe Fiasco‘s Hip Hop Saved My Life and presents to us a story of a hip hop artist who rises above his circumstances. The film was screened at Berlin as a part of the Berlinale special screenings. Gully Boy stars Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt in the lead roles, supported very well by Vijay Raaz and Siddhant Chaturvedi. It has been directed by Zoya Akhtar.

What’s Gully Boy About:

Gully Boy starts off our experience with a shoutout to two super talented hip hop artists Divine and Naezy. Murad (Ranveer Singh) lives with his abusive father (Vijay Raaz), oppressed mother (Amruta Subhash), his brother and his grandmom in the heart of Dharavi. Owing to his financial and home conditions, Murad is in a frayed and despaired state of mind. But he finds his happy place in two aspects of his life – his spunky girlfriend Safeena (Alia Bhatt) and hip hop. At a college festival, Murad watches MC Sher (Siddhant Chaturvedi) perform on the stage and is inspired. Murad and Sher eventually record a video of Murad’s song under his artist name “Gully Boy”, which gains a lot of popularity on the Internet. Murad finds his voice through Gully Boy, while managing to hold a driver’s job. Gully Boy and Sher collaborate with Sky (Kalki Koechlin), who is a student at Berkeley Uni. She produces Gully Boy and MC Sher’s first album as her project. In a game-changing series of events, rapper Nas, who is listed as a producer in the credits(?!), announces his tour to India and holds a rap battle to decide who opens for him. Murad now works with his uncle and has to decide between earning a living and embracing his passion.

What Works:

Gully Boy takes you through the gullies of Dharavi, both literally and figuratively. It is successful in giving you a glimpse into the hood and making you understand Murad’s passion to escape it. Alia Bhatt is enviously talented and makes for such a well-nuanced, intelligent and hateli Safeena. Vijay Raaz is effortlessly terrific, as usual. Newcomer Siddhant Chaturvedi leaves his mark strongly even when Gully Boy is brimming with talent. Ranveer Singh’s restrained performance as Murad and as a man who has found his freedom as Gully Boy is moving. And his flow is surprisingly good! Also, here’s a standing ovation for the dialogue writer Vijay Maurya for the tight, beautiful and cheeky dialogues that blew our minds and made us laugh. The music is in sync with the essence of the film and the end is simply spectacular.  Gully Boy has a soul with a satisfying story arch. Take a bow, Zoya Akhtar.

What Could’ve Been Better:

If wishes were horses, we’d have loved to watch Divine and Naezy perform in the film at some point.

Why You Should Watch:

Gully Boy reveals the joys and pains of a side of Mumbai not many know intimately. The rise of a frayed boy who hails from a trying background and makes himself heard by millions is a great story by itself. The hip-hop angle makes it just so much richer and soulful. Hip hop is not just a genre, it’s a mindset and has given a voice to many such artists over the decades. Gully Boy captures all that and more and makes for a superb weekend watch.

If you are wondering how the audience has reacted to the film, here are some stars being doled out as the public showers love on Gully Boy.