Energetic and entertaining Gully Boy | Sunday Observer

Energetic and entertaining Gully Boy

23 January, 2022

Gully Boy is a 2019 Indian Hindi-language musical drama film directed by Zoya Akhtar, and written by Akhtar and Reema Kagti. The film was produced by Ritesh Sidhwani, Akhtar and Farhan Akhtar under the banners of Tiger Baby Films and Excel Entertainment Productions, with Nas as an executive producer. It stars Ranveer Singh in the titular role and features Alia Bhatt, Kalki Koechlin, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Vijay Varma, Amruta Subhash and Vijay Raaz in supporting roles. Inspired by the lives of Indian street rappers Divine and Naezy, the film is a coming-of-age story about an aspiring street rapper from the Dharavi slums of Mumbai.

Principal photography for Gully Boy began in January 2018 and wrapped up in April 2018. It was premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 9, 2019 and released on February 15, 2019 to critical acclaim. With a global gross of over 2.38 billion (equivalent to 2.5 billion or US$33 million in 2020), it emerged as the seventh-highest-grossing Hindi film of the year.

Gully Boy won a record 13 Filmfare Awards, the most awards for a single film in a year, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Singh) and Best Actress (Bhatt), and it became the second film to win all four acting awards, 21 years after Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). Internationally, it won the NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea. It was also selected as the Indian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.

Critical response

Gully Boy received positive reviews from critics with praise directed to Akhtar’s direction, Maurya’s dialogue and Singh, Chaturvedi and Bhatt for their performances. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a score of 96% based on 23 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10.

Anna M. M. Vetticad of Firstpost gave Gully Boy four stars out of five, writing, “Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt are devastatingly good in Zoya Akhtar’s ultimate anthem for the rebel”. Raja Sen of Hindustan Times called it “the first great Hindi film of 2019”, while Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama called it “Akhtar’s best film to date”. Rachit Gupta of The Times of India also gave four stars. Sukanya Verma of Rediff.com also gave four stars. Livemint wrote, “It’s a hard-won transformation – bohot hard – and it rings true”. 

Anupama Chopra commented, “By the end, I was wiping tears and cheering furiously not just for Murad, but for each one of these characters to find happiness”.

Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV opined, “Gully Boy can be whole-heartedly commended for its craft, fascinating characters and Ranveer Singh. He absolutely kills the slow-burning rapper act. What’s more, he does with a lot of energy to spare.” Writing for Film Companion, Baradwaj Rangan gave Gully Boy three stars out of five and found it to be “softer than expected, but hugely entertaining and beautifully made”. Ananya Bhattacharya of India Today rated it three stars out of five. Mayur Sanap of Deccan Chronicle also gave it three stars. The Wire felt the film dealt with Bollywood tropes.

Manjusha Radhakrishnan of Gulf News rated the film 4/5 and wrote, “When he breaks down, you break down with him and that’s one of the biggest victories of Gully Boy”. Among international reviewers, Lee Marshall of Screen International wrote, “Singh busts rhymes with the best of them in this energetic, entertaining film”. 

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film three stars of five. Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter commended Akhtar for her direction. Anita Iyer of Khaleej Times rated the film four stars out of five. 

Jay Weissberg of Variety wrote, “Zoya Akhtar’s most accomplished film to date is a mainstream rap musical about a Muslim guy from working-class Mumbai determined to break free from the strictures of expectation and class, all served up with generous helpings of deftly written hip-hop lyrics and a largely well-woven narrative” starring “Ranveer Singh in all his charms.” 

Raja Sen of NDTV gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and said, “Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, an underdog story shining a light on India’s incipient hip-hop subculture, is the first great Hindi film of 2019 and a rousing celebration of spunk.

The writing is enthralling, the texture fantastic, and this world is a revelation. Here are characters without room to breathe who express themselves breathlessly, through a style of music that has always belonged to the marginalised. Dissent finds a way — and a beat.”


Gully Boy attracted controversy over its 13 wins at the 65th Filmfare Awards. Several Twitter users and fans were extremely disappointed and made calls to boycott the awards, with #BoycottFilmfare trending on the micro-blogging site. 

While many thought that the film was a deserving winner, others were unhappy and even termed the awards as “snub fare”, calling it a move to “justify sending it as a nomination for the Oscars”. Subsequently, when the Filmfare Award for Best Lyrics went to the rap song Apna Time Aayega instead of the patriotic song Teri Mitti from the 2019 war movie Kesari, lyricist Manoj Muntashir tweeted his disappointment at the decision, pledging not to attend future award ceremonies, and gained support from fans and other musicians alike.