‘Gully Boy’ Review: Ranveer’s Intense Performance Steals the Show
Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boy, starring Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt and Kalki Koechlin had its world premiere at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival on Friday. The film, loosely inspired by the life of Mumbai rappers Divine and Naezy, had been selected as part of the Berlinale Special programme.
Initial reviews of the film have been extremely positive, with critics lauding Ranveer’s quiet and intense performance that showcases his range as an actor. Check out what the audience had to say:
“Ranveer Singh smoulders marvellously. He affects a slang that sounded ghetto enough to my non-Mumbai ears, and it’s terrific to see him demonstrate his more “sophisticated” acting side. We caught glimpses of this underplaying in Zoya’s Dil Dhadakne Do, where he was part of an ensemble, but here, he fills the film from the first frame to the last, and it’s a superb showreel for his range. (The performative art in the Bhansali films, the more straightforward masala performance in Simmba, and now this.) But I wondered how much more the actor could have been had the character’s arc been fresher, more forceful, had things come to him less easily, if he’d had to struggle more. Two-and-half hours is way too long for such a predictable story, and the entire episode with Sky (Kalki Koechlin) feels like it could have been axed. Murad’s struggles are diminished by this US-based “White Saviour”. Volcanoes don’t need enablers.Zoya continues to demonstrate that she is one of our best directors. Her eye for pacing and staging, her ability to manufacture and maintain mood and atmosphere — they’re just fantastic.”Baradwaj Rangan, Film Companion
“It’s a beautiful love story and on some level, it’s a love letter to Mumbai. What powers these different narratives are essentially two things: The extraordinary performance from Ranveer Singh as the film’s protagonist Murad and the music and lyrics that have as much feeling as the story and performances. I thought Ranveer Singh was very good in Zoya Akhtar’s last film Dil Dhadakne Do and I think they go further with that. She taps into a quieter, more thoughtful side of him. A huge chunk of his performance in Gully Boy is internal - it plays out on his face through his expressions. It’s the little things - he’s an intuitive, perceptive actor. The music, the songs are potent. Murad, who has an abusive father, raps about his mother’s plight, about seeking freedom, about fulfiling his dreams and about the importance of staying authentic. Authentic, in fact, is a word I’d use to describe the storytelling and filmmaking. This is a world that the writers have clearly embedded themselves in. This is not an outsider’s view of these people, their lives and their homes. It’s a keenly observed portrait, a really lived-in world, which is why it never feels fake.”Rajeev Masand, Film Critic
“Zoya Akhtar (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara) directs with flair and passion and, aided by explosive performances from a right-on cast, triumphs over the familiarity of the star-is-born storyline. Her main asset is Ranveer Singh, who broke into Bollywood with the rom com Band Baajat Baaraat and who here shows a pleasingly full emotional range that extends to drama and hip hop. With his hair combed over his eyes and noticeably muscle-bound, he is heroic but mild-mannered, rarely exceeding the sphere of believability. Lending strong backup are Alia Bhatt (Raazi) as his volatile love interest Safeena and Siddhant Chaturvedi in the role of his rap guru and pal Sher.”Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter