In the two days since the trailer of Gully Boy was released, Ranveer Singh has been applauded for his nuanced act of an upcoming rapper from the streets of Dharavi. Much like the fans, director Zoya Akhtar says she too was surprised when she saw her leading man — otherwise known for his gregarious nature — portray his angst-ridden character with subtlety that is uncharacteristic of him.
"Ranveer is ridiculously versatile," exclaims Akhtar, attributing his deep understanding of characters to his "sensitive nature".
"He has a high emotional quotient. So, he can portray any kind of emotion with finesse." The filmmaker points out that Singh is one of the few actors who can seamlessly switch from the over-the-top universe of Simmba (2018) to the gritty one of Gully Boy. “The audience will see his range as an actor; he is so subtle and internalised in the film. During the shoot, he would vent out all his energy in the first shot. It was only in the second shot that he would get into the character," laughs Akhtar, who recently promoted her film on an online show presented by Grey Goose.
With her fourth feature film training the lens on an unlikely subject, she hopes to offer an honest depiction of the underground rap scene of India.
"When Reema [Kagti, co-writer] and I met the kids who are making this music, we realised that they talk about their lives and the socio-economic space through their music in the most honest way possible. They don't harbour cynicism or bitterness. They are out there to change the world, and that feeling can be contagious."
“Ahead of its February 14 release, the Alia Bhatt-starrer will have its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival that kicks off on February 7.
"It was a toss-up between the Sundance Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival. But as the dates came closer, we realised our film won't be ready for Sundance. So, we didn't apply for it and instead, entered our film at the Berlin fest."