Apna Time Aayega: What Privileged India Needs to Learn from Gully Boy’s Shabdon Ka Jwala

Bollywood

Apna Time Aayega: What Privileged India Needs to Learn from Gully Boy’s Shabdon Ka Jwala

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

“W

ords are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”

Who would have thought that the words of the great Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore would be brought to life so evocatively by Vijay Maurya in Gully Boy, directed by Zoya Akhtar and starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt in what are, quite possibly, career-best performances so far. Singh altogether disappears within the character of Murad Sheikh, a final-year college student struggling to graduate and land a sales job just so he and his family can rise above the fate that a “naukar ka beta” will always be a naukar. So much so that in the first scene, it took me several seconds to recognise that the hesitant, worried young man who has been snookered into participating in a car heist was Singh, a man whose career has been characterised by excess and a spirit that is all about intemperate grabbing and holding of attention. Bhatt, although well-versed in playing the spunky, outspoken, career-minded young girl, kicks it up a notch as Safeena, a doctor-in-the-making who picks her battles carefully and lies artfully to balance the weight of her conservative parents’ expectations. Akhtar directs the film with controlled intensity, oscillating between the unhurried, languorous style of filmmaking she is known and admired for, and the throbbing intensity demanded by a protagonist, who every so often, has had enough.

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