Gully Boy selected as India's official entry for the Oscars

By Murtaza Ali Khan

The Film Federation of India has picked Zoya Akhtar's "Gully Boy" as India's official entry in the International Feature Film category at the 92nd Academy Awards. Gully Boy, featuring Ranveer Singh in the lead, is set in the slums of Mumbai and focuses on the underground artists who try to give voice to those at the bottom of the pyramid. Inspired by the lives of Mumbai-based street rappers Divine and Naezy, Gully Boy is essentially a film about rebellion against the society. 

There were 27 films in the running this year but the selection committee lead by actor-filmmaker Aparna Sen unanimously chose Gully Boy, as revealed by the FFI secretary general Supran Sen. Last year's pick was Rima Das' Village Rockstars. And Newton was picked the year before that. It is worth mentioning here that only three Indian films viz. Mother India, Salaam Bombay! and Lagaan have ever been nominated for Oscar. 

Gully Boy had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival 2019. It has received both critical acclaim and has also tasted commercial success. It's relevant and hard hitting subject makes it one of the most important films to have come out of Hindi mainstream cinema in the recent times. 

Gully Boy encourages people to dream and dream big. Aren’t we all a victim of our circumstances? The film reminds us that the only way to succeed is to take on the obstacles head on. At the centre of Gully Boy is Murad (essayed by Ranveer Singh) who lives in the slums of Dharavi but dreams of becoming a rapper. He is one of those few who dare to look at the stars. We have seen many underdog stories but what makes Gully Boy different is the subject’s treatment in that how it leverages upon the power of rap to propagate the story.

Ranveer Singh’s Murad is certainly the best thing about Gully Boy. Also, the newcomer Siddhant Chaturvedi impresses in his role of Murad’s fellow rapper MC Sher. Vijay Raaz is brilliant at Murad’s father. Another surprise factor is Vijay Varma as Moeen. With Gully Boy, Zoya Akhtar succeeded in answering her critics that telling rich people’s stories is not the only thing she is good. But will she finally succeed in ending India's drought at the Oscars? Well, it's going to be big fight with some of the best films of world cinema before it makes the final short list and gets the Oscar nomination. If it does go that far then from there on it is going to be all about lobbying. But it is a little early for all that.

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