Indian Hip-Hop Gets Big Screen Time in Berlin Festival Pic ‘Gully Boy’

Variety | 2/13/2019 | Naman Ramachandran
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Eminent Indian filmmaker Zoya Akhtar’s new film, “Gully Boy,” had its world premiere at Berlin as part of the Berlinale Special screenings strand.

Set in Mumbai’s Dharavi area, one of Asia’s largest slums, the film is loosely based on the lives of street rappers Divine and Naezy, whose music Akhtar first heard in 2014. Akhtar is known for her successful dramas set among the world of the hyper-wealthy in films such as “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” (2011) and “Dil Dhadakne Do” (2015) or in elite Bollywood circles such as her debut feature, “Luck by Chance” (2009). “Gully Boy” marks a significant departure in milieu for the filmmaker.

Theme - World - Music - Akhtar - Kind

“It’s not so much the theme as the world and the music that is attractive to me,” Akhtar says. “Thematically, the same kind of story that I end up making, which is coming of age, finding your voice, it is similar. It is the world that is different and the context that is different. I am a huge fan of hip-hop music.”

Akhtar saw a video of Naezy and found the music very authentic. She began following his work, attending his gigs and eventually met Divine as well. “It just went from there and became a film,” says Akhtar.

Boy - Bollywood - A-listers - Ranveer - Singh

“Gully Boy” stars Bollywood A-listers Ranveer Singh (“Simmba”) and Alia Bhatt (“Raazi”). “Apna time aayega” (“Our Time Will Come”), the anthemic single from the film composed by Dub Sharma and Divine with lyrics by Divine and Ankur Tewari and vocals by Singh and Divine, was released in January and has racked up some 30 million views on YouTube.

Akhtar is one of the few women filmmakers in the male- dominated Indian industry. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Akhtar has not had to face the sexism that is endemic to the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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