Gully Boy Versus Gully Boy: Which Version Do You Like Better?

Well, Ranveer’s version came out today. Version plus video. And I’m just gonna put it out there, I like the original better.

Let’s start with Divine’s break out video. Filmed by himself and became a youtube sensation, helped get him the deal with Sony that lead to the original “Mere Gully Mein” video. I love it, and it is (mildly) controversial. Bringing up the Taj Attacks, and the forced Mumbai name change as two things the city survived and kept going, that’s interesting.

And then he got that Sony money and made “Mere Gully Mein” which got him noticed in the mainstream, not just in the music viral sensation world. I love this video, because it is so happy! Sunshine and small children and smiling. And because (even though it was now filmed professionally), it was still filmed on the streets with random street kids and street people and little handheld cameras that could jump in and out. And two leads who were more about singing than anything else.

And then there’s Ranveer’s version. I don’t know where it was filmed but it FEELS like it it was filmed on a soundstage. The camera can predict where the actors will go, can track and crane and spin, in a way it can’t when you are dealing with a handheld moving through narrow streets and around people. Also, no one is smiling!!!! It isn’t until close to the end that we finally get some happy little kids, the rest of the time they are all serious-serious. And it still bothers me that Ranveer is singing. I can’t quite explain way, something about it feels like he is taking of Divine’s story and talent in a kind of cultural colonialism way? Making it so that we will remember Ranveer as the rapper and the person and forget the real one now that we have this cleaner, handsomer, Hindu-er, option? It is a far more interesting version in terms of clean edits and camera work and so on, but for me, that’s also what makes it a worse version.

But you don’t have to agree!!!!! Out of the two Gullys, which do you like best? Or is “Yeh Mera Bombay” still better than both of them?

17 thoughts on “Gully Boy Versus Gully Boy: Which Version Do You Like Better?

  1. `
    Yeh Mera Bombay, then the Sony version, than distant third, the Ranveer one.

    This reminds me to listening to Elvis to “Hound Dog” and thinking it was pretty good. Then I heard Big Mama Thornton do the original . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Do you have a translation for Yeh Mera Bombay? I tried googling but didn’t come up with anything and much to my annoyance Google Translate did something to their algorithm and the Hindi translations don’t work well anymore.

    I’m still not sold on Ranveer for this role. He doesn’t look right to me. I appreciate the effort he’s putting in but it feels very cleaned up. Also, your point about Ranveer being cleaner, handsomer and Hinduer. I didn’t realize until I googled that Divine is Christian. That must be significant, right?

    I expressed my opinion on Ranveer on Twitter and got piled on by people who insisted I was wrong and that Ranveer looked very much like a boy who has to keep up a clean appearance so he can keep his driver job and support his family. But then someone who lives in Mumbai DM’d me and said she agreed with me. I’m starting to wonder if Ranveer is the person the middle class can accept seeing in this role and if he looked more authentic that audience would reject him.

    In terms of the music, Yeh Mera Bombay all the way, though I like Mere Gully Mein a lot.


    • First, the Google is strong in me! Check this out, if you click on the verse it gives you a translation:

      Interesting, it doesn’t include the line about changing the name not mattering, it is still “Bombay”.

      And here is a quick interview with Divine from a couple years ago, interesting that he is focused on representing “real” Bombay and “Real” people, and dismissive of the way Rap is used as just a break section in film songs:

      The thing that throws me most about Ranveer’s appearance, from my very very small experiences in “real” Bombay, is that he is too big. The people of that class that I saw on the streets were shorter and skinnier and their clothes tended to be much looser and also much more worn. Which you could do with Ranveer without forcing him to lose weight or shrink, just dress him in bigger older clothes. And give him a bad haircut. But then he wouldn’t be the ideal of manliness that you want in a movie star.

      This is why biopics are hard for me!!!! If Ranveer was playing an invented character with all the edges rubbed off, essentially his role in Band Baaja Baarat, then I have no problems with this. It’s reality, but heightened and smoothed down to make it more pleasurable for us to watch, the clothes fit better and the haircut is more flattering and so on. But making him a real person runs into this other problem that we are saying the real person/people represented aren’t “good enough” the way they really are, and it creates a false idea that people of that class have, like, access to dental care. And can afford new clothes. And on and on. Which, again, is not an issue when you are making a total fantasy film because we all know it is a fantasy, but this is supposed to be “real”.

      On Tue, Jan 22, 2019 at 11:20 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • This! So much! Ranveer has, as we say in Ohio, quite a corn-fed look about him. I hate hate all the too-white, chiclet looking teeth in Hollywood, and increasingly British and Hindi, movies, because they distract me so much in any period type of role. 🙂


        • I’ve been watching a lot of BBC lately, and they are so much better at casting people that look like people. Not in Downton Abbey necessarily (although even there some of the servant characters were a bit varied). But in the mystery shows and stuff, they have a whole variety of body types playing the suspects and witnesses and villagers and so on. It makes the world feels so much more varied and deep when it isn’t filled with identical noses and teeth and bodies.

          And it’s not like Ranveer has to look so healthy and bright and heroic! They managed to make Alia seem shorter and put her in a Hijab and just generally made her seem more “average” (while still very pretty). But somehow the hero still has to look “heroic”.

          On Tue, Jan 22, 2019 at 2:42 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  3. To me Divine’s Gully Boy feels more genuine and Ranveer’s more staged. Even music-singing-wise I like Divine’s more.
    Actually I don’t see Ranveer being in a rapper’s skin…what I got to see till now is too polished or visibly played (to me). As a movie version I still have – maybe too much – 8 Mile and Eminem in my mind. I bet I won’t even watch Ranveer’s Gully Boy.


    • I may need to rewatch 8 Mile tonight. In my memory, it’s a remarkable film for how it builds itself around Eminem. He isn’t an actor, but they were able to help him play himself. More than that, they built the character so that he is, in some way, always rapping. Even just in conversation scenes, he builds his words as though he is writing a rap. Which feels true to what an artist would be like, always writing somehow. I could see the same tactic used in a biopic for a dancer, for instance, just have them always be dancing in their own way and make that the leading part of their performance. And it lets Eminem perform in a way that works for him, that is more powerful than what an actor could bring to it using his words.

      I know there have been other rapper biopics, like the recent one on Public Enemy, but those felt more like they were built around the songs and instead of natural. Maybe because Eminem’s work is already so autobiographical that the line between a movie and one long music video of his life isn’t that different?

      Anyway, with Gully Boy, I would be happy with the film if it was sold as a fictional story based on a combination of Bombay artists instead of this direct “Ranveer is playing Divine, but cleaner and handsomer” feeling.

      On Tue, Jan 22, 2019 at 12:40 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  4. I’m seeing all three videos for the first time. The first is very specifically about Bombay and things associated with it while the second is more about the experience of living in a gully. I liked the second-Sony- one better because the first seemed like a flag waving for Bombay which has been seen in many videos while the second delves more into the details.The rapping is wonderful in both.
    The third one is like a remix of the second one and like all remixes,falls short in comparison to original. I’m not much bothered by Ranveer’s cleaner look cos I’m guessing its meant to be a promotional video than an actual song in the movie? So audience knows it’s Ranveer Singh onscreen than the rapper character who isn’t supposed to look cleaner & handsome-by your definition.Having said that, I was looking more at the other rapper(Google tells me he is Siddhanth Chathurvedi) who clearly is way more natural at this than Ranveer. Also I don’t understand the need to bring in the religious identifies of the actors into a song discussion.Are you trying to say that Zoya Akthar -who is a Muslim herself chose to show her leads as Hind


    • Isn’t Zoya half Parsi?

      I didn’t notice until I was looking for these videos that Divine is Christian. Which is kind of a sign of the flaw in the trailers so far, that his religious identity was hidden while Alia’s was obvious, the implication being it is a Hindu-Muslim love story. Unless I missed something in the dialogue which did show it.

      Looks like Siddhanth Chathurvedi is from the show Inside Edge, which just gives me another reason to want to watch it! If Anged Bedi and Richa Chaddha weren’t enough.

      On Tue, Jan 22, 2019 at 10:42 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • When did Javed Aktar become Parsi? I thought Ranveer’s character was Muslim with the very prominently worn tavis in his neck. Again I dont know why you see it has an attempt to ‘hide’ a particular religious identity.Also did Divine have a real life Muslim girl friend who breaks bottles on people? I’m assuming they would have taken some cinematic liberties to make it into a movie and few things may not exactly match with the actual life story.From what I read the lead character is an amalgamation of Divine & Naezy and not just on Divine. Maybe that’s why they havent named the lead character as Divine.Everyone knows it’s based on them and what their religious identities are So what are the makers even going to achieve by ‘hiding’ the religious identity?I am assuming the story they are trying to tell is about two boys from slums making it big cos in Bombay more than the religion,the class matters.


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