Zoya Akhtar explains why Vijay Raaz’s Gully Boy character deserves sympathy: ‘He’s operating out of fear’
Filmmakers Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti have delivered two impressive projects in less than a month. First, it was Gully Boy, the rap musical based in the slums of Dharavi, revealing the cruel realities of the class divide. Now, they have launched their first web series together, Amazon Prime’s Made in Heaven, which is also getting rave reviews from the audience.
In a recent chat with HT, the four filmmakers behind the series -- Zoya, Reema, Nitya Mehra and Alankrita Srivastava--talked about their new show and also about Gully Boy, particularly about one character that confused many viewers--Murad’s father.
Vijay Raaz plays the abusive father to Ranveer Singh’s Murad in the film. He brings home a new wife, while the first one is reduced to a house help. He hits her when she protests, belittles her when she asks for respect. He crushes his son’s dreams, tells him to keep his head down, and not dare to think that he could be special.
Throughout the film, he felt like the only character who deserves our hatred. However, towards the end of the film, we find ourselves feeling the pressure the world has built around him and the walls that enclosed his thoughts so tightly that he couldn’t dare dream for a better future. We begin sympathising with a wife beater.
Watch our full interview here:
When about her intentions with the character, Zoya said he was indeed supposed to get our sympathy. “As a system and as a society, we create people like that. The whole class system has oppressed so many people and given them such lack of opportunity. They are fed such strong narratives that this is where you belong and this is where you are. Because you belong to this community, you have only these options. Because you don’t have opportunity to study, you don’t have opportunity to further yourself. And you kind of tend to believe your lot that this is what you have been given. I think on some level we have colonised people, our own people. When you colonise someone’s dream, that’s the worst thing you can do. To make an entire population of people believe that they don’t deserve better... I think he is a victim of that. He oppresses the weak and the oppressed,” she said.
“The system oppresses him so much that he would bully in his little cave. So if he can beat his wife, he will, if he can tell his son off, he will. Because that’s the only space in this country that he has any power in,” she added.
Zoya says the turning point comes in the scene towards the end in Murad’s new home. “Eventually he realises that his son has become a man and will no longer listen to him. He is operating out of fear. It’s an absolute, abject fear where he says nothing is gonna happen to you and you are gonna lose this opportunity that you have gotten. Because in his head, he is not open and he has no concept that things can be different. So that’s where we came from,” she said.
Gully Boy is embellished with more great characters, played to perfection by some really talented actors. The film received world wide praise when it was screened at the Berlin Film Festival and many even called it one of the finest mainstream Hindi films in recent time.
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