As I was watching Gully Boy, I saw it to be a lie, a movie trying to tell us what it is not, and it is forcing me to commit a cardinal sin on an open platform, i.e. use the M and H words.
However hard Gully Boy tries to masquerade to be introducing “real hip hop” to India, Sorry Dear Zoya Akhtar, (I suspect that we both know it) it is more about giving voice to Muslim youth in urban India, and as an Indian I really thank you for making this movie.
While Secret Superstar did touch upon the theme of life of a young Muslim kid, it still did not take it front on and preferred remaining a behind-the-closed-door story focusing on feminism and domestic oppression, but Gully Boy is special as it has brought the clash of culture with emerging social context out on the street.
From a critical perspective, as a movie Gully Boy has tried touching far too many issues, but as it is brave enough to accept that a movie doesn’t mean to be a closure of all threads, it has managed to show what we really need to notice.
However hard we try to ignore, the truth is, be it Hindu or Muslim urban kid, they are living in a different world than their parents and it is slowly reaching a point where we have a state of undeclared war between religious and cultural ideas and life that a city offers.
With rise of large metros, arrival of internet and global communication connectivity, all the cultural silos that humanity has created by using traditions as defining walls are quickly getting punctured.
Every young man and woman regardless of location or religion is able to see the life style of others and hence is in a position to question why he/she can’t have the same dreams and same life that others are enjoying.
This process is moving across the globe rapidly and kids in the cities are first to get hit by disparity they face only and only because of cultural and thus imaginary constraints.
A city is a cauldron of opportunities and thus it is possible for all young urban kids to imagine that “Aapna time ayega”. If cultural or religious traditions are asking a kid not to dream and hope, such traditions will have to fight against the immense power of hope that youth has.
While the world seems to be getting more and more polarised by religious ideologies, movies like Gully Boy makes me sense rise of another religion, religion of youth, and I am pinning my hopes on the incredible power of hope that youth is always gifted with.
I really feel that, if religious constraints are going to broken, it will by the hope of a better life that freedom offers. A movie like Gully Boy will serve more than a million peace talks or years of armed oppression in changing hearts and minds.
Gully Boy reminds me of another scene from yet another movie which subtly tried to say something even deeper.
For me, Bezubaan (Voiceless) dance-song of ABCD is an anthem of all young people oppressed by cultural and religious ideas they don’t relate to.
But, it is not only about oppression and rebellion, there is something subtle and deeper.
When the young Muslim boy pulls away from his dad to sing “Bezubaan” in ABCD, unnoticed by us all, something really magical and yet really Real (if we are ready to believe in it) happens.
He is joined by his all young friends to dance out his anthem. It is so natural that we all forget that the other kids are coming from different religions and cultures.
Be it Hindu or Muslim kid (ah! I so love the sense of freedom that I get by typing H and M without bothering about religion-Nasis!), they will belong to the same world if/as their dreams and hopes are same.
Youth has the power to dream of any dream, including one where world is not divided by religions. Let us hope that they can realise it for us.