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Storytelling through framing in ‘Gully Boy’

We have already spoken a lot about the direction of Gully Boy and how director Zoya Akhtar worked on the finer nuances of the film to create well etched characters like Murad, Safeena, Moeen, MC Sher, etc. The film is based on the lives of Indian street rappers Divine and Naezy, and is a coming-of-age story about an aspiring street rapper from the Dharavi slums of Mumbai.

Since the film is about Murad and his struggle, it becomes imperative to show this struggle visually and how well you can depict the psychology of the character/s. A lot of time, it happens through the framing in the form of unsaid words.

Let us discuss 4 such instances:

  • Murad is mostly kept in his own space

Murad’s mental struggle and his inner demons are shown by keeping him mostly alone in frames. His eyes do a lot of talking. Check out the following frames:

In the first two frames, he doesn’t let anybody come within his zone where he is most comfortable. In the third frame, he is aloof in his world as he faces his mamu, who is against his love for music and gives him constant earfuls.

  • Class struggle

In this frame, we can see Murad sitting inside the car he drives as a part of his job.

We see a reflection of lights all over the car whereas Murad can be seen inside in complete darkness. It reminds us of the constant class struggles Murad and others face. In the reflection (side view mirror), may be the film is trying to tell us that even the likes of Murad also want to come out of the darkness in their lives and see the light. It shows their aspiration and desires.

  • From darkness to light

In this frame, Murad and Safeena share a small compartment inside a train coach and the coach depicts a world outside the real world. We see yellow light behind Safeena, representing the brightness in her life whereas bluish tone behind Murad depicting the darkness in his life. We can see that both are comfortable in each other’s company and Safeena has already entered Murad’s life (her stretched leg covering the distance).

  • The walk

In these frames below, we can see that both Murad and Safeena walk ahead of their respective mothers in the film (Murad’s second mother).

In a way it describes that both Murad and Safeena have taken control of their life and are confident of changing it. It can also point that both of them are trying to run away from their respective realities (Murad wants to change his life whereas Safeena’s mother asks her to get married). Also, it describes a contrast in their respective backgrounds. We can see the slums behind Murad and much cleaner locality where Safeena lives. Moreover, she is a surgeon by profession whereas Murad is still searching his dream.

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