Posted in Movies - General

Go. Root for this Gully Boy!!


Let me start with the music. Long before I knew anything about the movie or who the director was, or even who the lead actors were, I came across the first single of Gully Boy.

Asli Hip Hop.

And I listened to it on a steaming platform, which meant I didn’t have any video reference the first time around. I was instantly drawn to the energy of the song.  I’ll admit, I am not the most proficient Hindi speaker and in general, unlike many music listeners, when I listen to the song for the first few times, I don’t instantly process the lyrics, even in languages that I am most comfortable with (English and Tamil). So, languages of songs have rarely been barriers for me in appreciating the music or the vibe that specific songs aim for.

Asli Hip Hop did something to me.

As soon as I had access to a computer, I searched for the YouTube version of the song and within a few minutes I learned as much as I could about the movie and knew right then that Gully Boy was going to be the first Hindi movie in 2019 that I was going to look forward to. Soon, Apna Time Aayega was released and I fell in love with the whole album even without listening to the rest of the songs.

Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy aims to deliver an underdog success story that would resonate with every moviegoer, irrespective of their natural liking for “rap music” or not. And therein lies those layers of deft decisions that Zoya had to make to keep the movie away from being like Eight Mile and steer to it being more like (albeit rather ambitiously), Million Dollar Baby or Rocky.  As a filmmaker, if you could pull that off, given the premise of your story is “Hindi Rap or Hindi Hip-Hop counterculture”, a world not many people know much about, I mean, that’s not just a success, but a phenomenal one.

Listen to Gully Boy music here:

Take this scene as an example. A bridge on top of a “nala” (sewer) is one of the regular secret meeting points of Murad (Ranveer Singh) and Safeena (Alia Bhatt), and yet, you don’t see (or smell) the sewer or the ambiance around in a single scene. There is even an aerial shot of the bridge where you could clearly see the garbage floating around on both sides of the bridge, and you somehow are not taken through a sullen ride of sympathetic thoughts about the slum or its dwellers. Zoya and her cameraman (Jay Oza) had deliberately made an attempt not to dwell into the hardships of a slum life as primary reference points in a single scene, but instead focus on the characters and their stories. That is alright for you, as long as you are following the story arc while inside the theater, but as you walk out, you wonder why the whole rap counterculture, a world most of us don’t know much about, was not explored further. In other words, what makes these rappers write songs to express themselves in a particular manner?  Where and how did they draw their inspiration from? Perhaps, that’s the story arc that would have taken the movie along the path of Eight Mile. As satisfied as I was with the movie as a whole, I felt a little inadequate walking out and would have wanted Zoya to explore that path a bit more, while still keeping her “sports movie” template. To offset, a part of the Sky episode could have been nicked.

Vijay Maurya (Murad’s uncle – also the movie’s dialogue writer), Vijay Raaz (Murad’s Father), and Vijay Varma (Moeen, Murad’s friend and his occasional savior) are the three Vijays who pretty much provide the most needed push (in a benevolent or in a malevolent manner) in Murad’s life when he needed them the most. Talking about the dialogues, even though I am not the best judge of “Mumbaiya”, the dialogues were so well penned that they brought out certain fresh dimensions to some scenes.

Murad doesn’t talk much. He writes and when he discovers he could perform after meeting his mentor of sorts, MC Sher (played brilliantly by Siddhant Chaturvedi), he raps or performs and continues to talk less. A tamed Ranveer excels in his role and it was simply amazing to watch him go through his road to his eventual success at a Rap Battle which would change his fortune for the better. Ranveer was Murad for the duration of the movie.

Is there a better female actor in Bollywood today than Alia Bhatt? My admiration for her started after watching Highway and it has only continued to grow since then. In this movie, Safeena is defined by that spunk, that firecracker attitude, and that boldness & possessiveness, all of which Alia absorbed and breathed out effortlessly. The first scene where Ranveer’s and Alia’s characters meet (how beautifully staged was that scene) presents you the entire character graph of Safeena, while Murad’s character continues to evolve throughout the movie.

Clocking at a little over 2 hours and 30 minutes (which didn’t bother me much, although I would repeat why I felt a good 5-10 minutes of the Sky episode could have been sacrificed), Gully Boy doesn’t pretend to be anything else.

It’s a story about dreaming big. It’s a story that questions the societal disparity but offers hope to the underdog who wants to give up fighting that disparity.

Unlike Eminem in Eight Mile, who even after that epic rap battle victory still walks away all broke and only with a smirk on his face and a jolt of confidence, Murad walks back to the slum as a local celebrity, 10 Lakh Rupees richer, and even gives away some cash to his grandma who once insulted him.

The fine line between an underdog success story that wants you to leave with a hope for tomorrow and an underdog success story that wants you to leave with the satisfaction of you achieving a dream today. That’s the fine line between what I expected and what I experienced. 

Go. Root for this Gully Boy!

PS: Shoutout to the original Gully Boys – Naezy and DIVINE.


Posted in My Music, Poem

எங்கோ ஒரு பாதை

எங்கோ ஒரு பாதை
என்றோ பயணித்த பாதை
தடங்கள் பதியா பாதை அது
எங்கோ ஒரு பாதை

யார் கண்களிலும் படாமல்
நம் கண்களைக் கட்டிக்கொண்டு
புரியாமல் நடந்த பாதை
எங்கோ ஒரு பாதை

ஏன் எதற்கு என்று ஒன்றும் அறியாமல்
தொடாமல் தொட்டும் படாமல் பட்டும்
பயணம் செய்தோமா என்றறியாத பாதை
எங்கோ ஒரு பாதை

கண்களைத் திறந்தோம்
நானில்லை நீயுமில்லை
ஆனால் பாதை தெரிகிறது

பிரிந்து சேர்ந்த பழைய பாதையா?
புரிதலால் பெயர்த்த புதிய பாதையா?

இம்முறை கண்களை மூடாமல்?


Posted in Humor - General

A Petting Experiment

Boxer Dog Illustration

<Speaking into a Voice Recorder>

𝟓:𝟎𝟒 𝐀𝐌

"Hello, Good Morning!

This is Ganpy.

It's 5:04 AM on Feb 2, 2019. It's a Saturday.

A big day for the Groundhog supremacists. The temperature outside is 4 deg F with a windchill of -1 deg F. It feels like spring already.

Meantime, the lab is ready and I think I am all set for my experiment. I am very excited about this. I hope I have all that I need with me. Will do one more scan of the lab with the checklist. At this point, am just waiting for the subject to arrive before I start the preparation."

𝟔:𝟎𝟎 𝐀𝐌

"Hello. It's me again.

The subject has just arrived. Will complete pre-experiment preparatory steps soon. Shouldn't take that long.."

𝟔:𝟏𝟎 𝐀𝐌

"I am sure you heard all that noise.

Morning hugs and licks exchanged. And I can confirm now that the subject is ready because she is in the most ideal position for the experiment.

Also..for the record, I didn't have to give any treats to the subject as part of this preparatory phase."

𝟔:𝟏𝟐 𝐀𝐌

"Hello, We are ready to begin the experiment. Really anxious and am super excited."

𝟔:𝟏𝟑 𝐀𝐌

"It's time.

The objective of today's experiment is to test Tayga's endurance level to belly rubs.

I will be studying the relationship between the applied pressure of my hands and Tayga's excitement level and will be measuring the variations of all these parameters over a period of time in order to find that exact threshold time period at which Tayga says 'Enough!! I am done with your belly rubs..'.

Because under normal conditions, these belly rubs last only 2-3 minutes and I don't get to see any change in her excitement level, there is no data available to determine at what point of time Tayga pushes my hands away and says enough.

I will be recording my observations over a period of time and the method I am going to use to measure her excitement level is simply visual and emotional.

Ok, here we go.."

𝟔:𝟒𝟎 𝐀𝐌

"Hello! I am happy to report that the experiment is proceeding well. The subject has settled into a comfortable position and hasn't moved much in the past 20 minutes or so. Her eyes are partially closed. Like she is dreaming. There may even be a smile.."

𝟕:𝟐𝟕 𝐀𝐌

"Back again.

A quick update.

Nothing much has changed since my last update. If this continues for another 30 minutes or so, I will have to switch hands. Also, in case this makes you happy, Phil didn't see his shadow and that according to Phil means spring is really coming soon.."

𝟖:𝟏𝟓 𝐀𝐌

"Hello again!

More than 2 hours since we started the experiment.

I had to get some water as I started feeling thirsty, which was something I didn't account for. But I had help and could get my drink without any interruptions to my experiment.

The subject is still holding steady and absolutely no variations. If any, there is more drool now.."

𝟗:𝟎𝟕 𝐀𝐌

"Hello, this is me again.

I am at a point where I have to make a crucial change in the experiment.

I would like to make it on record that the objective of my experiment has been altered.

The objective as it stands now is to find that specific threshold time period, when Tayga opens her eyes, lifts her head, and rolls from one side to the other.

Also, I have asked my lab assistant to massage one arm while the other one is being used to conduct the experiment."

𝟏𝟎:𝟑𝟎 𝐀𝐌

"I hate to admit. And I had not planned for this scenario.

My arms are beginning to hurt, in spite of all the help, I am getting through acupuncture and pressure point massages.

The objective has been slightly modified again.

As long as the subject opens her eyes, and even for a fleeting second gives me a wink that I understand as she telling me that she is done, I will take the measurements and stop the experiment.."

𝟏𝟐:𝟐𝟕 𝐏𝐌

"My feeding me lunch.

Tayga still in same pos..I think I am getting dehydra..or"

𝟏:𝟑𝟏 𝐏𝐌

"I am abandoning the experiment.

I repeat.

This experiment has been abandoned.."