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Review: If A Push Is All That Your Dream Needs, Go Watch Gully Boy!

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The raw texture in every aspect of the narrative, a “not- to- miss” mention of almost every sensitive, yet muted and pinching, point of the characters through its songs, and a constant presence of lyrical silence which speaks paralleled volumes with immensely strong dialogues, is what makes Gully boy an epic that it is.

Of course, needless to add, its perfect protagonists played by Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, and the supporting star cast, added incredible energy, not just on screen, but within the viewers too.

The movie revolves around the niches of the Mumbai slum, and its haunting reality, majorly from a perspective that puts forth an economically weak Muslim family’s lifestyle. It’s a treat to watch, Murad, played by Ranveer Singh, who’s relentless urge to change his life and his pain, only talk in silence through his writings; a domestically abusive father; a supportive mother; Murad’s childhood sweetheart Safeena, who is fearless and an aspiring young surgeon herself, and his old and new friends who struggle with him in their own ways, to make him the ‘Gully boy’ that he finally is.

The movie is so well knitted, and almost every dot connects so aptly with the other, that no one individual can be called the ‘star” of the narrative. Each of them has put their best foot forward. The only one who does look a misfit and is loosely crafted is the character of Sky, played by Kalki. Director Zoya Akhtar, perhaps, wanted to put a point across to showcase Murad’s growth, but then the strings get broken soon after, as far as Sky is concerned.

Of all that I have understood from his process of preparing for a role, Ranveer Singh has nailed it yet again, while trying to sync the ghetto character of Murad thoroughly into his soul. What speak for him are his wet vulnerable eyes, his silence, the depth in his poetry, and his heart that beats for rap, and indeed his lady love Safeena. In those handful moments when he does get vocal, kudos to the dialogue writer, Vijay Maurya, who has simply brought more shine to the star.

I have loved Alia Bhatt for the transformation she brings to her own character, similar to what she did in Highway, Raazi, and now in Gully boy. The articulation of how a Mumbai girl from a conservative family, and a gundi of sorts would speak, has been done exactly to the point by the young actress. Together they portray a sweet couple, deeply in love, progressive, possessive and the biggest strength for each other.

Siddhant Chaturvedi, who plays Murad’s mentor, MC Sher, has stolen my heart away and so has Murad’s old friend Moin, played by Vijay Verma. Both these relationships individually have been beautifully crafted by Akhtar and Reema Kagti, the co-writer for the movie. The core message and characters they carry with them is the big heart of a true friend, who is bravely ready to give it all to let Murad live the passion of his life. They put to life the reality of giving with open hands, that too when they do not have anything in themselves, apart from their own sheer talent. Remarkable.

Gully Boy’s music is not the routine list of songs played for you, but an interesting fusion of poetry and beats that introduces you to the horrific realities of a minority lifestyle, crime, politics and to the self- scripted norms of the society that the wise youth does not relate to.

Every word of the movie is written with such depth, that each of it melts down into a new poetry that the dreamer is ready to shout aloud. That’s how the dreamer Murad is. In the middle of all his life’s challenges, his career build ups and with his hard work, he’s able to turn his struggles into opportunities, to live his contrasting dream.

Few deep dug messages that I could establish are how valuably poor the richer counterparts are, and vice versa. The scenes where Murad drives his owner’s car as an almost graduate sitting next to the daughter who’s a graduate herself. The silent discrimination is a hit on the soul, both ways. In a similar situation when the owner’s daughter sits in the car crying and there’s a hard-hitting poetry that goes through Murad’s mind, which is a slap on umpteen self-created lines we draw in the name of class and strata. These create staunch walls within our society for no reason.

One of Murad’s relatives tells him to sing ghazals instead if music is the only thing he wishes to pursue. Safeena is beaten up by her mother when she puts forward her basic youthful demands to move out- party and talk to boys. The jaded, experienced lot of elders in our society have created a phenomenon, which they think cannot and shouldn’t be altered for any reason, which stops the younger lot to even dream. This goes against the souls of today’s generation.

Making a shift from her earlier creations of larger than life riches, and all the talks about the urban pain points, Zoya Akhtar has filmed a very different reality. Her gift of getting into sharp specifications, deep messaging is evident here as well.

The movie for me, is inspiring, allowing me to dream more.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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