On February 14 last year, I was happily in a theater at 8.30am, fighting in a red outfit, with excitement in my eyes and a smile on my lips. Contrary to what you might reckon, it wasn't the Valentine's Day I was going for. In fact, I flew solo in the morning to catch the first day, the first appearance of Ranveer Singh's favorite Gap Boy (so technically it was a one-way date). I left the theater realizing that Zoya Akhtar, Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Siddhant Chaturvedi and the rest of the cast had made an incredible film. But today, just a year after the release of the movie, I can finally appreciate the 360 degree impact that this overproduction of a movie has had on Bollywood and society.
We are all witnesses to the fact that the hardened rope exploded aptly in our upper middle class homes as modern parents struggled to know the anxiety behind Murad & Co.'s falling ramps. Did they get it completely? Did they realize that? Probably not. But they heard it, with every realization that these kids were listening these days and it was vital to them. The Gap Boy made rap a topic that could easily emerge all through a regular dinner party at the household. He gave their generation a slogan. Apna Time Aayega.
He also gave us a rich music album unlike anything we saw at one time. The perfect collaborations he had were nice. But more importantly, the film managed to turn non-viewers into rap lovers.
The tale of Gap Boy is a tale that has its roots in travel, among others. Now, you may not tell to each character or know their struggles because you are never in their shoes, but that does not cause any distress in translating his message. In addition, each character felt as if he had a tale that broke at the seams to be spilled and told, whether it was Safeena, Murad's father, Moeen or MC Sher. In every corner of his spit, there was a spin-off waiting to take place.
The film also had a more visible, more direct impact on how it transformed the cast's career. Because we can talk about Gap Boy and without mentioning the faith that his stars gave him, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Vijay Varma? Both are now profitable actresses, who can seek out character-based roles that allow them to flex their performing arts muscles. Look at Alia Bhatt's silly Safeena, who manages to shine in a movie where she could if not be reduced to mere hero support. If Mourat has a fire inside, Safeena is its flame that burns and can give you warmth and burn you.
Would it be exaggerated to say that Gap Boy was made because an actor like Ranveer Singh existed in Bollywood? Maybe not. Because Muradz persuades you that no one else could do what he did. The man's loud, OTT and an exaggeration in every way. But Murad is restrained, measured, nervous. Not a star that bursts but a supernova waiting for the aptly moment to explode. Taking advantage of his accomplishment at Gap Boy, Singh started his own independent mark working with rap artists and musicians who worked on Gap Boy's album. Life spoke so well with art.
If the ribbed rope was a gift, then the Gap Boy was like wrapped silver and gold paper, which received a wrapped gift and was presented to the Indian public. Unfortunately, our main Indian audience has the level of maturity of a teenager – it is juicy, indecisive, revolutionary and seeking familiarity. It does not have the patience and the taste needed for a certain high cinema that could easily glide with the international audience. Of course, when you give this teen a gift, you will just want to unfold it to get to the main thing. Who cares about wrapping paper, aptly?
But you see, this glossy silver-gold wrapping paper has folds. Fascinatingly, they only reveal themselves when light reflects on their surface just like that. It can hold your attention, fascinate you for a while, and make the gift inside a small more exciting. It is a paper that you want to peel carefully, then straighten, fold and store away to be reused. Because this is the Indian way too.
The Gap Boy has many such aspects in Murad's tale that we are only now understanding, one year after its release, with the deleted scenes revealing the ongoing reason for the film's cultural impact. India's choice as India's official Oscar winner over other films proves once over again that film has such a very round effect on many realms. It provided the audience with a excellent film, the music industry, a better understanding of the kind they could now exploit, the film industry some excellent young talents and the world an exciting and open look at the Indian rap scene.
The fact that it achieved such high goals, while being enough to win the audience a single screen, makes Gap Boy a special movie that we should celebrate as much as we can. Because Zoya Akhtar's film is certainly a film that keeps on charitable.
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