ADVERTISEMENT

Why I Think Ranveer’s ‘Gully Boy’ Is Just Too Similar to ‘8 Mile’

Ranveer Singh’s ‘Gully Boy’ vs Eminem’s ‘8 Mile’.

Updated
Bollywood
6 min read
Why I Think Ranveer’s ‘Gully Boy’ Is Just Too Similar to ‘8 Mile’

Right at the beginning, I will say that Gully Boy is a good film. It’s a story told with fantastic acting, great music and entertaining characters. The underdog story of a Mumbai rapper trying to change his life is a wonderful cinematic tale.

I’m saying this because you might think this is a hit job and a putdown. It isn’t, I enjoyed the film and recommend you watch it.

My problem with the film however is with the fact that it appears to borrow generously from 8 Mile. Comparisons with the 2002 Hollywood film starring Eminem, the now deceased Brittany Murphy and others have plagued Gully Boy. I’ll Illustrate why those comparisons are unavoidable and justifiably so.

ADVERTISEMENT

Writer Reema Kagti and Writer-Director Zoya Akhtar can say this is an attempt to shoot down the film. However, I believe at crucial points in the narrative, Gully Boy borrows not only plot elements but also visuals from 8 Mile to advance the story. Considering that 8 Mile came out 17 years ago, the makers can’t plead ignorance.

8 Mile is a cult film. The original song Eminem wrote for it - ‘Lose Yourself’ is iconic. Eminem won an Oscar and a Grammy in the same year for it and the success of the song spilled onto the movie.

So how exactly is Gully Boy similar to 8 Mile? (Spoilers Ahead):

1. Setting

In 8 Mile, Eminem’s character ‘B.Rabbit’ is a labour class factory worker pursuing his dreams of becoming a rapper. He lives in Detroit and comes of age in the Detroit rap scene. There’s a visible class and income divide which is shown to be integral.

In Gully Boy, Ranveer’s character ‘Murad’ is a slum dwelling student trying to make his passion of becoming a rapper come true. The Mumbai hip-hop scene is what brings him to the fore. Here too the class and income divide is integral.

ADVERTISEMENT

2. Family

Rabbit’s family life is tumultuous. He is poor and lives in a trailer with his mom who is in a relationship with an abusive boyfriend. In the defining scene, Rabbit’s mom is slapped around by her boyfriend leading to a violent confrontation between Rabbit and the man. Rabbit is made to leave the trailer after the man quits.

A still from 8 Mile.

Murad has an abusive father and a supportive mother. He lives in a chawl and gets beaten by his dad (Vijay Raaz). In the defining scene, Murad’s mother is slapped leading to a violent confrontation between Murad and Raaz’s character. Murad leaves the house with his mom and brother.

Ranveer Singh and Vijay Raaz in Gully Boy.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

3. Love Interests

The characters of Brittany Murphy and Taryn Manning form an unstable love triangle with Rabbit. One is Rabbit’s ex and wants to get back with him. Rabbit develops feelings for another which leads to a sexual encounter in the factory. While it doesn’t last, they remain friends at the end.

A still from 8 Mile.

Murad’s love story is also a triangle. Alia’s character is his chosen girl but soon he develops feelings for Kalki’s character that leads to an intimate encounter - not in a factory but a car. He breaks it off and once again, they remain friends at the end.

Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt and Kalki Koechlin in Gully Boy.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)
ADVERTISEMENT

4. Best Friend

Siddhant Chaturvedi is superb in Gully Boy. As Murad’s mentor and guide, MC Sher recognizes Murad’s potential. He inspires, collaborates with and supports him. He is the guiding light and strength that Murad needs to achieve his dreams.

Siddhanth Chaturvedi in Gully Boy.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

The character is similar to ‘Future’ played by Mekhi Pfeiffer in 8 Mile. Pfeiffer’s personality is different from Chaturvedi’s but his role is the same. He is also an MC. He hosts rap battles and when not doing so guides and supports Rabbit. He is instrumental in recognizing Rabbit’s talent and gives him the push to overcome odds.

Mekhi Pfeiffer in 8 Mile.

Visual Similarities

  • Murad dresses like Rabbit. Eminem’s hoodie after 8 Mile became his trademark. He didn’t invent it but Eminem’s hoodie did to rap culture what Tupac Shakur did to the forehead bandana. Murad walks and performs in a hoodie and this isn’t cold Detroit, its humid Mumbai!
Ranveer Singh and Eminem side by side.
  • Rabbit and his friends go on a vandalising spree in the night. He burns a house and vandalises a police car with a paint gun. Murad goaded by Sky (Kalki) and friends also goes on a vandalising spree in the night. Instead of a paint gun and a police car, its spray painting on advertising billboards.
Stills from Gully Boy (top) and 8 Mile (bottom).
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)
  • Murad’s first rap battle leaves him speechless. He chokes. Surprise, the exact same thing happens to Rabbit who chokes in his first rap battle.
Stills from Gully Boy (bottom) and 8 Mile (top).
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)
ADVERTISEMENT
  • Both films are built and advanced on rap battles. Rabbit must battle his competitors to prove himself. Murad must battle his competitors to achieve his dream. The difference is that while Rabbit is doing this to avenge his pride, Murad is doing this for opportunity and living his dream.
Stills from Gully Boy (left) and 8 Mile (right).
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)
  • Rabbit scribbles his lyrics on folded sheets of paper. Murad does it in his notebook. Fine, rappers need to write their lyrics – but come on, Murad’s notebook has a picture of Eminem. Did he not see 8 Mile? Another 4th wall?
Stills from Gully Boy (right) and 8 Mile (left).
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)
  • Rabbit tunes out the world with his Walkman. On the bus, the screenplay shows this by cutting to the song in the Walkman as it drives by fading the background music. This is similarly shown in Gully Boy as Murad escapes into the sound of his phone. Instead of the bus, it happens in the chawl.
Stills from Gully Boy (top) and 8 Mile (bottom).
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)
  • Rabbit raps into the mirror for practice. Murad has to do the same.
Stills from Gully Boy (bottom) and 8 Mile (top).
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)
  • Even hyping the club crowd in the climax looks way too similar.
Stills from Gully Boy (top) and 8 Mile (bottom).
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)
ADVERTISEMENT

Divine and Naezy are world-class rappers and have inspired the film but how come their lives, mannerisms and circumstances as shown are so similar to Rabbit’s?

Gully Boy comes across like an engineered, Indianized version of 8 Mile - a rap film to suit a local audience. Maybe it’s not deliberate, more cognitive but it’s apparent what the source is.

Ultimately, Gully Boy entertains and delivers because it is a technically well-made film. The performances are superb. Ranveer, Alia, Kalki and Vijay Raaz are all brilliant in it. Chaturvedi is phenomenal. It’s for the cast and feel-good factor that you must watch the film.

(Aditya Magal is a writer, author and blogger, you can follow him on Twitter on @jhunjhunwala)

(This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

(Note: Neither the writer nor the site make any claim on images used in this post. All rights belong to respective owners and have been used here only for demonstration purposes.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read and Breaking News at the Quint, browse for more from entertainment and bollywood

Topics:  Alia Bhatt   Ranveer Singh   Zoya Akhtar 

ADVERTISEMENT
Published: 
Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Quint Insider
25
100
200

or more

PREMIUM

3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Insider Benefits
Read More
ADVERTISEMENT
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!
ADVERTISEMENT
More News
×
×