The Man Behind the ‘Tod Fod’ Dialogues of Ranveer-Alia’s Gully Boy
Meet Vijay Maurya, the man behind the faadu dialogues in Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt’s Gully Boy.
“Gully Boy is my Sholay, my Anand. It is my film,” says the wordsmith behind the line that caught the public imagination, with the trailer release of the Zoya Akhtar directorial - Mere boyfriend se gulu gulu karegi...
In a freewheeling chat with The Quint, Vijay Maurya the dialogue writer of the Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt-starrer talks about the challenge of weaving conversation in the film without the use of swear words and what authentic Bambaiyya language is all about.
How familiar are you with the world in which Gully Boy is set – the hip hop subculture, the lingo and the surroundings? Did that help you to write better?
Vijay Maurya: I’m not too familiar with this culture. A dreamer, anyone who they call the underdog – I’m very much familiar with because I myself am an underdog. Kisike past ki kahani hai…I mean any dream which is not a normal dream. Any dream where if I belong to a family jahaan hand to mouth existence hai, if I tell my father that I want to become a tattoo maker or a fashion designer or a dubbing artist or if I want to get into films – ‘How can you do this? Woh mat karo’ – uss surrounding ko main belong karta hun. I spent all my life in the suburbs – in Goregaon, Bombay. So most of my friends, we have seen this world of dreaming big aur ek point pe chhod dena ki nahi karta…jaane do yaar. It’s too big and out of my reach. Main tadap ke nikla wahan se. Papa gaate the. He used to sing Qawali and he had a group…before this cassette industry came. Ek music ka mahaul hai ghar mein…aur Hindi bhasha thi…usko contaminate kiya. I speak Marathi and Gujarati very fluently. My primary language is Hindi then English, Marathi,Gujarati came later in my life. I have this flair for languages and dialect, one-liners, words…how people speak – imitating them, mimicking them, noticing character. I was familiar with that. Thoda music ka sense mujhe hai shayad. Hip hop culture – mann ki baat jo kehna hota hai…it’s not just about singing; it’s about speaking out your heart. Isliye main zyada connect karta hun. This was my research all my life. I did that only…naake pe baithke.
When the script came to you, did it carry the working dialogue in English? How much of it did you weave in? The dialogue is not the generic Bambaiyya one – like ‘apun - tapun’.
Vijay Maurya: When I got the script from Zoya - I was blown. Is this really from Zoya Akhtar? It straight touched my heart. I don’t think in English, I think in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati. English is a secondary language… so I don’t think in English. Zoya is born and brought up in Bandra…joh pehle ki film banayi hai unhone…Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara… Dil Dhadakne Do…ek alag culture wali film hai…elite class keliye. Jab Gully Boy ki script mili toh laga ki – ‘Yeh toh meri hai…yeh toh mera world hai’. Clarity of emotions and craft ka correct combination jo dialogue form mein Zoya ne diya tha usse. And unhone haath jodke mujhse kaha tha ki…please don’t use any cuss words in the film…nahi toh censorshipwale ghusenge aur kaat denge woh log. Writing about rappers and writing about that world and not using any gaali was really challenging for me. Normally, bolte bolte gaali nikalti hai naturally.
I don’t want to use those words here, but you have seen youngsters talking to each other – they abuse. They use bad words in a good sense. Kitna mast aadmi hai…tu toh na beep hai… tu toh na yeh hai…She said I have the basic script and these are my dialogues, you have to transcreate it, bring out your own stuff. I didn’t want to lose the soul. English main jo padha tha maine usme soul tha…normally kya hota hai English filmein hum jab dekhte hain…unka jo subtitle hota hai who bohot bura hota hai. Jurassic Park – subtitled film dekhne gaya tha ek baar – ‘Yeh dekho bhayanak chipkali…yeh kisi rasayan ka adbhut namuna lagti hai… Aao pahad ki chhot pe chad jaate hain’ - It sounds so bad. I knew that if I translate it, it will sound bad, I need to own it. Baatein hui Zoya se, padhte padhte maine likhna shuru kar diya. Because this is my world… so why should I do research. I just dove right in. I transcreated it. Wrote 5-6 scenes to tell her that this is the way I’m thinking. I took it as a responsibility. Mujhe laga main kuch likhke dunga aur mujhe phone aayega doosre din aur Zoya bolegi, “Nice to meet you. Theek hai baad mein kabhi kaam karenge.” I was really worried, but she was thrilled. She was like you have to finish it and give it to me. Javed(Akhtar) saab ne bhi padhe woh scenes and he was like, “Bang on, this is correct!” Iski apni bhasha hai…yeh apni boli hai. Characters bolne lagey hai ab.
Could you give a small example of the brief you were given and what you turned that into?
Vijay Maurya: Murad, Moin, MC Sher, Vijay Raaz – sabki apni boli hai. Kalki ka joh character hai, she is from South Bombay. The other side of town – the privileged class jo Hinglish bolte hain. Ek sentence mein chaar word English ke hote hain..Hindi hoti hain..us type ki aadhi adhuri language. ‘Maine ek glass of water mangaaya…aap ne diya nahi mujhko. How mean.” Woh ek alag class hai. Murad apne doston ke saath milta hai, woh alag language hain. ‘Kya bacchi’, ‘Oh punter log’, ‘bantai’ – woh ek alag language hai. Moin jo crime ko chhuke aata hai – woh ek alag hi zone mein baat karta hai. When Murad talks to his girlfriend Safeena, it’s easy…it’s not too crude. Safeena when she meets her family members, like her father who is a doctor and mother, who is a house-wife, who is a little cranky but uss crankiness mein bhi who‘aap’ bolti hai bacche ko apne. ‘Homework kab complete karenge aap.’ Sabka alag flavor tha.
Zoya ne kahaki aisa na lage ki ek hi banda sab lines bola raha hai. It’s not about ‘Kya bhidu…aati kya khandala. It’s not apun, tapun, khajur, bolele, tereko, ayele, gayele’ – for me that is fake. Agar Mumbai ke baare mein film ban rahi hai, agar rappers par film ban rahi hair aur Dharavi mein based hai toh it’s not necessary to use lines like kya shane chalna.. kangi nikalna…Maine kabhi nahi dekha kisi ko aise baat karte hau…woh character humne mann mein banaya hua hai. Agar South Indian character hai toh ‘Aiyyo main udhar pe gaya tha toh mereko mila’- aise koi nahi baat karta hai. Not a single Punjabi friend of mine says, ‘Oye khaana khayega’…Woh humne apne aap ko dhaala hui hai filmein dekh ke. It’s stereotypical…bad version of Mumbaiyya language. Mumbaiyya language is a mixture of all the languages. “Mere boyfriend se gulu gulu karengi toh usko dhoptungi na’ - Dhoptungi is very local Maharastrian. Normally ‘tula zhodun kadin…tula marin’…it’s very local…joh bacche ko bolte hain na…’tujhe maarungi’… You mix it with Hindi or your own language. Woh language wahan se ayi hai.
Almost every character has a very distinct vocabulary. Like you mentioned, how Alia speaks is different from how Ranveer speaks and how the friends speak, so did you have a formal process since it’s a lot of characters and many tracks in the film?
Vijay Maurya: Apne aap ko Murad maanke, maine film likhi. This is my character – primary education municipal school mein leke. Though I am from Bombay, ghar ki haalat theek nahi thi. My parents couldn’t afford my convent education.Coming from that background and making it in Bollywood now. People are now praising my work. Woh jo ek daur hai– primary education and then getting into college and completing my graduation in chemistry. Then joining Bhaghubai college and finishing post-graduation. I have a set of friends – school ke alag hain, naake ke alag hain, college ke alag hain –Sabke saath ek tareeke se baat nahi kar sakta main…toh woh ek experience tha mere paas. Maine ek first draft kiya interval tak –Zoya se mila – so wahaan technical cheezein shuru ho jati hain jaise crafting the scene. Then second hua, I narrated it to Zoya and she loved it.
Then she said, that authenticity maintain karne ke liye, we need to crosscheck it with the rappers – Altaf, Kaambhari, Rahul, Emiway – woh sab picture mein hai– woh log aye aur baithe mere saath. Ranveer obviously was there. Unke saamne main old-school hoon. Jo maine jiya hai Mumbai, woh aaj jee rahe hain. Unki umar 16-19 saal ki hai. See, I’m a dialogue writer, mere liye woh log chaaron chalte phirte dialogue hain. Unse badi dictionary koi nahi hai. Whatever they say, it’s a dialogue. ‘AC band karna …kya barf phenk rahela dekh.’ Like their response to ‘Chai peeyenge,’ will be ‘Haan Jada Garam mat de, jubaan jal jayegi.’ I learned those words, aaj kal kya chal raha hai market mein… ‘bhidu’ nahi bolte, ‘bhidu’ pehle bolte the. ‘Shaane’ nahi bolte. ‘Bantai’,‘Kya Bacchi’, ‘Patel Log’ – taking those words and turning them into dialogue. Pehle ‘Nikal’, ‘Kalti’, ‘Pintukle’,‘Intukle’ bolte thhey abhi bolte hain – ‘kamti hona’. They came up with this slang, so it really helped. Unke through, Murad ke saare scenes humne reading kiye – mostly jo gang ke saare scene thhey. They came up with lines like ‘Andar ka lava phatke bahar ane de’. I was like a student in front of them. I was reading out to them and they were like “Arre sahi hai Vijay bhai, aapne toh phaad dia hai.” I was getting their certificate. Somewhere when they felt like it’s old-school, they said it. “Isskona aise bol sakte hain. Mast lagenga.” I used to take those compliments. It was a treat working with these guys. Woh process hua, toh ek script complete hui.
What were the rehearsals like and how much time did it take for Ranveer, Alia, Siddhant and others to perfect that dialect?
Vijay Maurya: Rehearsals were in groups. Pehle Ranveer ke saath rehearsals hoti thi. Zoya, me, Ranveer and the rappers. Alia ke saath main baitha tha teen deen. During the workshops, we used to read and she would record it. She is a fantastic actor. Alia ne toh grasp kar liya. She didn’t want to make it a caricature. Cameo hota hai – toh aap ek role karte ho –ek dialect pakadke. Par aapka agar full length role hai film mein...jahaan pe jhagadna hai, rona hai aapko…romantic banna hai – fake dialect leke you can’t extend it to a particular length..pakde jaate hain…ganda lagta hai. It sounds very jarring. Usko maintain karte hue preparation kiya Alia ne. Actors ke saath Zoya ne alag pockets mein reading ki. Phonetically kya woh character correct sound kar rahe hai? I wrote those lines toh mujhe laga main hee jee raha hun woh characters. I attended all the reading sessions. Jo main likhke de raha hun woh directly showroom main jayega ab. It was the final touch – jo bolenge wohi sunayi dega – I was thrilled, excited, nervous. Phatti padi thi meri but I did that.
So which is your favourite line or dialogue from the film?
Yeh sawaal ka jawaab main kaise dun. There are so many scenes in thefilm. Father son ke joh scenes hain uss mein… ‘Hum gareeb log hain. Apne sapne aur sacchai me mel hona chahiye’, then Murad ki line hai - ‘Nahi apne sacchai ko sapne se mel khane ke liye majboor karunga.’
Vijay Maurya: My favourite thing is when Sher ko pehli baar milta hai Ranveer. Woh Sher ko puchta hai ki tu usko kab mila pehle. He says, ‘Wilson College ke peeche Shivsagar main. Yeh foreigner log na jaat, joota aur jabaan nahi dekhte, seedha aankh mein dekhte hain. When I wrote this thing, Zoya was very happy with it that thodi philosophy bhi hain, sacchai bhi hain. That’s the artist’s world. Aankh se seedha soul mein utarte hain.
You were also Vidya Balan’s dialect coach on Tumhari Sulu. This whole specialisation was something you always had in mind because you are also an actor-writer? So how does all of that come together?
Vijay Maurya: It comes naturally to me. When I write, I speak out my line. I’ve written dialogues for Striker, Hunter, Chillar Party. I conducted a workshop for those kids as well. I became a kid. Unke saath rehke woh kaise baat karenge aur kis tarah ki dialogue baazi hogi unki. Suresh Triveni jinhone mujhe phir se jagaya…otherwise iss duniya mein, kahin kho gaya tha…sabun, tel, biscuit usi mein ghoom raha tha…Suresh ne kaha judega mere saath…ek film bana raha hun. Mere paas ek script hai but I need to work with you because I need someone to collaborate with me…dialogues karne hai aur climax sort out karna hai.
Vidya Balan bohot saaf bolti hai. Bareek actor hai, bohot nazdeek se cheez ko samjhne wali. Woh jo Hindi bol rahi hai, who bohot shuddh bol rahi hai toh use kaise hum easy kar sakte hain. She (Sulu) is from Mumbai – a housewife jo bohot chalte phirte baat karti hain. Ek reading session rakha ki kis tarah baat karengi – ‘Main jab gayi na toh Dadar mein na, wahan pe train pakad ke utri na Mahim mein, Mahim ka woh jo mirchi wale ka dukaan hai na…udhar ruk gayi main…uske baad woh theeki mirchi se dimaag aisa kharaab ho gaya naa.’ – Us type ka style. If you have noticed her, Vidya ka uccharan (pronounciation) bohot pyara hai. Woh safai todni thi. Reading ke through hum log baatein karte the…woh record karti thi. Unki jo line thi film mein, ‘Fir main idhar ayi..’ Normally phir nahi bolte hum log, fir bolte hain…traffic ko troffic bolte hain. Choti choti cheezein jo thi who miss na hojaye. ‘Pehle na tamatar ko bhun lene ka means usko na halka sa fry karne ka.’ That‘means’ is important. These nuances helped her a lot. That’s an extended part of my writing process - you narrate it to your actors. I love that because I’m an actor. So I love show off karna.
So, what are your future projects now?
Vijay Maurya: I am writing dialogues and part screenplay for the upcoming film of Rahul Dholakia,the director of Raees. I am also writing dialogue for Kabir Khan’s 83. There are some more projects, so I’m happy.
Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring writers who would like to pen more authentic, captivating dialogues?
Vijay Maurya: It’s all in the film Gully Boy. Andar ka lava fatke bahar aane de. Dialogue, dialogue na sound kare. Normal Baatcheet bhi dialogue ho sakta hai… Don’t articulate it, don’t try to craft it. Just say it and feel it and put it on paper. Lage raho, you’ll face a lot of rejection. Maine jitna zindagi mein likha hai, usse zyada zindagi mein, fati hai meri cheezein. Keep that patience, take a deep breath and move on in life. Hope mat chhodo, likhte raho.
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