Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy is actually two films rolled into one. It is the story of the rebellious rappers Murad and MC Sher, played by Ranveer Singh and Siddhanth Chaturvedi and the relationship of pupil-mentor that grows between them, and it’s also the story of Safeena, the spunky Muslim girl who breaks out of the shackles of traditionality to claim a slice of the open sky.
Alia’s story deserved its own film. In fact writer, Reema Kagti has admitted that the character was written for another film. Yes, it shows.
Not surprisingly this oddly positioned role has fetched Alia another Best actress award from Filmfare. Alia is an actress who lights up every frame in any film she does. Gully Boy is blessed to have her. But she doesn’t really belong to this film. She’s like Meryl Streep in Little Women. Radiant but redundant.
Ranveer Singh’s best actor award is no surprise to anyone. Days before the awards function one of the nominees had told me he won’t be attending the function.
“Ranveer is getting it. What’s the point?” he reasoned. The point is, the nominees could be more sporting, like the supremely sporting moment we saw at the Oscars last week when after his big win Korean director Bong Joon-Ho called out Martin Scorsese in the audience to proclaim that he, Joon-Ho grew up watching Scorsese‘s films.
It was a moment that defined the spirit of sportsmanship that is largely evaporating from Indian awards functions. Stars like Aamir Khan, Ajay Devgn and Kangana Ranaut boycott the popular awards as being rigged. Director Anubhav Sinha told me that after his Article 15 was snubbed in the Filmfare nominations he had decided to stay away from the function.
This may seem like a spoilsport’s attitude. But considering how commercialized, televised, the awards functions have become why should Anubhav Sinha sit and clap at the function as an inferior film walks away with the awards for best picture and best director?
It’s not the same thing as Martin Scorsese clapping for Bong Joon-Ho. It’s not two masters acknowledging each other. Awards are often given to those who agree to dance at the awards function. Quality is at the mercy of compromise. Hence we have Siddhanth Chaturvedi and Meezan Jaffrey, easily the best new acting discovery of 2019, being bypassed for the best debutant’s award.
Siddhanth, they chose to honour, in another category as Best Actor in a Supporting role.
The popular awards have become like Santa Claus. There is something in the bag for everyone. No one goes home without an award. The democratic spirit still survives in India.