From a British ruled India to India in 2019, the connotation of Azadi or independence has kept changing. But the phrase remains ever-relevant. One might remember how the leftist student leader and former JNU students' union President Kanhaiya Kumar chanting Azadi had created a nationwide debate. In 2016, in protest of the hanging of Afzal Guru, Kanhaiya along with students of JNU held an event opposing the state's stand of giving him a death sentence. Kanhaiya's Azadi song spread like fire. After almost three years, makers of Gully Boy seem to have had a revisit to the track with fresh phrases as they keep the 'azadi' part intact. "Bhukhmari se, azadi / Haan bhed bhaav se, azadi / Haan pachhwaad se, azadi /Hum leke rahenge, azadi/ Tum kuchh bhi kar lo, azadi". That's how Azadi, the latest track from Gully Boy, begins. To put it very briefly, it is multiple rebellious messages put together and uttered out by Ranveer Singh, who, in the film, has taken it on him to be the face of insurgency amid his socio-economic surrounding.
And, as a language of the change they want to bring in, they oppose fairness cream ads and instead write, 'brown is beautiful'. They tell you the anguish of hunger, the futility of empty words, the counterfeit promises made by politicians and the absolutely unequal distribution of wealth. The stark difference of backgrounds of Ranveer and his love interest Alia Bhatt is also shown for a moment. The track has been written and performed by Divine and Dub Sharma.
Makers, so far, have consciously kept themselves away from any controversy. The film was said to be based upon rappers Naezy and Divine earlier. But after news of Naezy heading to a rehab to fight his drug addiction broke, Zoya Akhtar rumouredly decided to not call it a film based on him. Instead, Gully Boy was referred to as a film revolving around the street rappers. Given that Azadi's resemblance with Kanhaiya's song is unmissable, we are curious to see what kind of a response it generates.
Apna Time Aayega, Doori and Mere Gully Mein, Azadi as well stays true to the essence of the film. Directed by Zoya Akhtar, it is set to roll out in theatres on the 14th of February.