Gully Boy Trailer!!!! Do They Think We Haven’t Seen 8 Mile?

Well, shoot. This was extremely derivative. I will give Zoya a lot of rope, but really? The quality of the colors, the gritty character background, even the hoodie. Surely there was a more original way to handle the story of a rising rap star.

I’ve been interested in this movie for a long time, mostly because it is a Zoya Akhtar film and I love her directorial eye. Luck By Chance is straight up brilliant, but Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Dil Dhadakne Do also have an unusual original look, and a different but familiar kind of character conflict. Oh, and great casting, all her movies have great casting.

So I was excited about this movie because I wanted to see Zoya’s take on the Dharavi slums, I wanted to see what she did with Ranveer after bringing out such a great performance in DDD, I wanted to see her working with Alia, I was interested in Alia’s Hijab wearing rebel character, there were all kinds of unusual things that we had never seen before in Indian film.

And now we have the trailer, and it is something we have never seen before in Indian film, because it’s a straight up rip off of the feel of an American film, 8 Mile. SO FRUSTRATING!!!! Just, WHY??? I know nothing about the real person this is based on, I am sure he also spent ages thinking about rhymes for his raps, and probably had some kind of family discord in his background, maybe he even wore a hoodie at some point and participated in rap battles. But the choice to focus on those things, and present them in this very particular edited gritty way, with the low color saturation, that just feels like a rip off of the look and tone of 8 Mile to no real purpose.

Here’s the 8 Mile trailer. Ignore the English dialogue and the trailer voice over, just focus on the look of it and the parts of the life we are seeing. It’s family conflict and a weak father figure, it’s caring about his little sister, it’s underground rap battles, it’s all in this streetlight kind of color tone, and there are SO MANY HOODIES.

Aw, Brittany Murphy! If you don’t remember, she is the exciting different woman who inspires him, Taryn Manning is his regular girlfriend that he breaks up with at the start. Boy, this is a good movie! I watched it once over ten years ago and I still remember so much. Which kind of makes it worse that Zoya is trying to imitate it, the original is so good, don’t disrespect it.

Maybe you are thinking “well, that’s the story this is, there are only so many variations on how you can show the rise of a rapper.” For contrast, let me show you the video the real Divine made for his break out song. Look at the bright colors, the smiling people jumping around, the sunshine, the complete lack of hoodies.

Don’t you want to watch a movie that looks like that? A joyful movie with sunshine and artistic expression and happy loving people? Not about underground rap battles, but about cell phone videos that go viral and get you a sweet music contract deal? And large loving families and a community that pulls together and street dancers that move to the rhythm of your words and so on and so forth?

Heck, why not this? The last major movie set in Dharavi, featuring actual rappers and a social message? A movie that shows Dharavi as a thriving community that deserves respect and support, not a depressing place of last hope that everyone just wants to escape?

29 thoughts on “Gully Boy Trailer!!!! Do They Think We Haven’t Seen 8 Mile?

      • Thank you for reminding me about this trailer. I watched it now and it looks like not my kind of film but it’s always a pleasure to see Unni doing some action.


    • Glad I’m not the only one who watches it and goes “that’s just 8 Mile”. And I will have to wait until I get home to watch 9, is this the one that had the international co-production thing?

      On Wed, Jan 9, 2019 at 12:14 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  1. I agree and also remember 8 Mile too well to not be disappointed in the clear influence here. That being said this still looks like a potentially great film with a unique to Hindi film atmosphere and subject, so I’m going to be somewhat lenient. I do see your point though about the tone: there’s often quite a lot of joy in hip-hop, as there is in any form of musical expression, and it doesn’t seem like this narrative is going to get that. I wonder if Zoya is deliberately trying to counteract some of her reputation in highlighting the fancy lifestyles of the upper classes and so she’s doubling down on portraying the lower classes as living in a muted world where the only way out is through rebellious self-expression or sad resignation. It’s not such a big stretch since she’s gone there now in the Lust Stories short and in some ways in Luck By Chance much earlier in her career.

    Even if she’s clearly cribbing from 8 Mile here, just the act of setting it in the Mumbai scene with the cultural and social difference will be interesting. All four actors are perfectly cast (including Kalki and Vijay Raaz…the latter is always riveting on screen for me…just watched Pataakha and he’s one of the best parts..he just has a great face).This film seems to also be positioned, like her previous films, as friendly to a global audience. She is so clearly influenced by world cinema and glossy Hollywood studio films (DDD, especially). She wants to be recognized outside of the Indian film world, in the same way as say the Danish director Susanne Bier is. I see her as a very similar kind of director and I would bet that she makes an all-English language film sooner rather than later just like Bier has moved from Danish to English language films.

    Liked by 2 people

    • In a bigger discussion, I am a little leary of well-meaning wealthy directors trying to prove they “get” it by doing a movie about poor people because too often it starts to feel like poverty porn. Showing poor people doesn’t have to be like that, if it feels like the film is really looking at them as people and considering their whole situation. I feel like 8 Mile had a particular purpose, in introducing mainstream America to the particular kind of passions and problems that inspired this new musical genre, and more generally investigating the specific situation of Eminen’s back story, challenging assumptions about race and class and all kinds of things.

      But (based only on the trailer), I am afraid Zoya might be trying to take those very specific issues and translating them to Dharavi and India, where they become more pointless meandering than focused. If she wants to talk about the failure of government schools, the issues with the lack of resources and infrastructure for Dharavi, the pressure put on the son of a household to be a wage earner, the class issues related to employment, all of those things that are as specific to the India setting as the dying factory world was for the Detroit setting, then I am down for it. But I’m not seeing that so far in the trailer.

      On Wed, Jan 9, 2019 at 12:58 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      • Agree about the poverty porn issue. There needs to be some kind of addressing of the socioeconomic reasons why this form of self-expression relates to the character’s/Divine’s perspective and experience. And it needs to be respectful and not condescending. We’ll see if Zoya can pull it off. I like her non-apologetic commentary on sexism and things like that in the industry in her interviews, but I’m not betting she has a whole lot of perspective on her privileged wealthy status and how that influences her film making. All that being said, it’s only a trailer and I’m thinking there will be a lot more to digest after seeing the whole film. It’s definitely at the top of my most anticipated films list! And it’s releasing on Valentine’s Day…it may have some romance, but where are my rom-coms next year?!! I really need to start watching more South films, I think.


    • Yeah, that’s another concern. 8 Mile had Eminem playing Eminem and various other rappers doing cameos. Kaala and Kabali both had cameo appearances from real life rappers. Maybe if there is no one in the Hindi film industry right now who can convincingly play a character from Dharavi, it is a sign that the Hindi film industry shouldn’t be telling these stories until it reaches out to a more diverse group of artists. It used to be more diverse, Jackie Shroff grew up in the slums, Zoya’s own father struggled quite a bit before he broke through. Could be a wake up call that the Hindi film industry needs to look outside the wealthy classes that dominate it now.

      Or that Zoya should have done more work and either discovered somebody, or had Divine play himself. Keep Alia as the female lead, and you still have enough star power to sell the movie.

      On Wed, Jan 9, 2019 at 1:35 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



    • It’s his hair. Seriously, his default hairstyle is so 80s feathered or something. He only has edge when he combs it back and has the wacky mustache.

      Plus it’s like they used the same make-up artist Alia had in Udta Punjab here…messy bronzer = poor and troubled. It worked for Alia’s character as sun damage since she worked outdoors, but maybe here not so much.


        • Not just that, they are also in loose colorful clothing with baseball caps. It would be so easy to imitate the real look, and immediately give a distinctive brand to the film. Heck, it’s the way Vicky’s poser character looked in Manmarziyaan, it is clearly possible. And familiar to the general culture, enough that the Manmarziyaan team could nail the look.

          Tells me something about Zoya’s presumed audience for this film, people who are unaware of the Hip-Hop/Rap culture in India and the fashion signifiers for it. Instead, it is this 8 Mile crossed with general “poor downtrodden” look.

          On Wed, Jan 9, 2019 at 1:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • It’s for Zoya’s usual audience. The middle and upper classes who idolize the West but don’t really know that much about it. Her movies always aim to be deep but never are. The rap scene will be treated to the usual Zoya superficiality. It’s deep because the sets don’t use enough lighting and the setting is supposedly the slums to try to make a collapsing Detroit equivalent.

            With this, she wants to show her credibility that she doesn’t only make ‘rich people problem’ movies. But even for that, she had to copy a Hollywood movie because that’s how she’s oriented.

            Btw, she spent months in NY working on Gully Boy. That should tell you all you need to know.


          • I still really really love Luck By Chance. But that was her movie to take a risk and deal with the world that the middle and upper classes wouldn’t want to see, and the lower classes couldn’t fantasize about. And it flopped, so I can see why she adjusted and took that same kind of relationship drama but moved it to prettier easier settings.


  2. ‘The original was so good,don’t disrespect it..’ my feeling about all the southern(Bhool Bhulaiya,Saathiya etc should never ever have existed) remakes in Bollywood. I would be a target audience for this film because I have not seen 8 Mile, am generally unfamiliar with the rap culture,love watching Ranveer(with glossy hair and all)& Kalki onscreen,trusts Zoya Akhtar to tell a decent entertaining story. So I am very intrigued by this trailer and looking forward to watching this movie. My only grouse would be Alia doing her screaming,sobbing, brave,broken little girl routine yet again.Bring in Sanya Malhotra pls!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really want Alia’s character to be a wild joyful rebel, I was hoping for that when I heard she would be in this movie. But now it is all grey tone and depressing, so maybe she will just be sobbing and broken again.


  3. I hav been following ur blog & enjoyed many posts n reviews especially ur take on Malayalam movies Cos it’s my mother tongue.After reading this post & how you completely discredited Zoya n Ranveer of what they hav done in this film ,I’m seeing a clear bias from u .You said srk introduced to Bollywood n then u started watching films in other Indian languages too.So it’s not a shock that you r clearly biased towards that star ,Shahrukh Khan .But I didn’t expect u to be like those srk fans who hates everything Ranveer does Cos Of the infamous Bajirao vs dilwale debacle . Most srk fans hates Ranveer n bring down his films through social media trolling .Now coming to u ,whatever srk does Even the worst films like dilwale or harry met Sejal ,u make scene by scene analysis just to make believe audience that srk is still good it’s clearly the directors n story that lets him down .U give benefit of doubt to his directors too .In ur zero review u give bof to actors director production everyone .Srk is playing the same lover boy in his 50s & u finds it refreshing & here a young actor is showing versatility n putting efforts on himself not depending on vfx to make him look younger ,then u hav a problem .Here u r completely discrediting Zoya capability as a director & more specifically Ranveer .Divine should hav played the rapper in the film ,seriously?then why didn’t u say that a real dwarf should hav played the lead in zero .U make box office analysis post ,but u didn’t even mention simmba huge success in North American market which is a first for Rohit Shetty masala genre,u didn’t even watch the film Cos u clearly is biased ,Rohit reportedly had a fall out with srk ,u so ur blindness towards simmba success hav more reasons.when all audiences worldwide is appreciating Ranveer for taking up a role n getting the Mumbai slang right & rapping himself in the film ,u come here with ur agenda to pull down the film .U can’t see anything good in it but u can see excellence in zero .its all negative ,how it’s an exact rip off ,how it’s vibe is negative etc ,well a Mumbai street rapper can also hav a similar story ,may be more tragic & its more real & Zoya can present it the way she wants want .if u r serious about reviewing pls put ur bias aside .


    • Hmm. It never occurred to me that I might be biased against Ranveer. I don’t think I am? I liked Befikre, which most people didn’t, and DDD. I don’t like Bhansali, but I’ve liked Ranveer’s performances in his Bhansali movies. I am biased towards Shahrukh, but that doesn’t mean I like all his movies. I really didn’t like Zero, my reviews are really not good for it. And I’m not terribly fond of Raees either. And I gave a terrible review to his Devdas.

      I’ve had personal issues the past couple of weeks and haven’t been able to cover Simmba, I hope to see it and finally review it tomorrow.


      • You know your blog has officially made it when the fan girls come to attack.

        You don’t have to justify yourself. The whole point of a blog is that it is made up of personal opinions. Critics are not required to like anything equally and demanding that kind of false equality is ridiculous. As long as you engage with films with with thoughtfulness, that is all that matters.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. If anything I’d watch this film for its awesome soundtrack and Kalki Koechlin! Kalki is an awesome actress, its a real shame she tends to focus more on theatre than film. I hope she has a more meaningful role in this role rather than just being a wacky love interest to Ranveer Singh.


  5. I actually liked the trailer. I definitely agree that it is taking much of its inspiration from 8 mile. But, to me, I did not think the depiction of Ranveer or Alia’s home/beginnings/lifestyle felt poverty porn. For some reason, it almost reminded me of Sui Dhaaga, which I felt was just matter of fact and not overly sensationalized (besides of course the dog scene which made me actually cringe and gave me anxiety as I watching it).


    • Oh shoot, did I forget to mention the inspiration for the dog scene in my Sui Dhaaga review? I am almost positive it was a tribute to Ozu’s “I Was Born, But…” It’s from pre-war Japan, a cute story from the perspective of two little boys, and they have a similar moment of awakening when they watch home movies at the house of a friend and see their father pretending to be various animals to amuse his boss (their friend’s Dad). There is no happy ending in that film, the boys work through the discovery that their father is just human and sometimes undignified and learn to love him anyway, but there is a certain painful loss of innocence all around, the father losing the pride of his sons and the sons losing the respect for their father. Anyway, don’t watch it!!!! The little boys are super cute, but it isn’t worth the heartbreak.

      I hope the end tone is matter-of-fact, I would really like that. We’ll see, it’s always hard to know for sure just from the trailer.

      On Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 4:24 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Wow. Thank you so much for that background. I continue to be impressed with your filmi knowledge. I will definitiely not watch it but I love learning new things so this is great!


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