Murad is a 22-year-old boy from a Mumbai ghetto. He wears sweatshirts with hoodies, takes part in an open mic, and writes lyrics that talk about, among other things, challenges that the youth must confront.
Murad wants to speak the language of the streets and become a successful rapper.
The youngster, played by Ranveer Singh, is the protagonist of filmmaker Zoya Akhtar’s eagerly awaited upcoming film, Gully Boy. Hindi cinema hasn’t had a rapper as the main character until now, which is why the film has evoked considerable curiosity before its release.
A hip-hopping hero from the slums might be new to commercial Hindi cinema. But music, in general, has had an unmistakably close association with our films. Most films would seem incomplete without songs and dances, which, in fact, define the identity of our cinema.
Many directors have also made films in which the protagonist’s character is of a popular musician. Remember Bollywood’s showman Subhash Ghai’s thriller Karz in which Rishi Kapoor played the character of Monty, a musician who was also a good dancer? Several songs from the film became hugely popular, including Om Shanti Om and Dard-E-Dil.
Years later, Satish Kaushik made the remake of Karz titled Karzzzz in which composer-actor Himesh Reshammiya played Monty’s character. Unlike Karz, the remake didn’t have much to write home about.
Bollywood has many films in which the protagonists have sung and danced their way into the hearts of the masses
Jimmy, played by Mithun Chakraborty in B Subhash’s Disco Dancer, is among the most popular musician characters of Hindi cinema. The story of a young man with dreams and his rise to the top, Disco Dancer turned Chakraborty into a big star in the 1980s. Decades after its release, Disco Dancer is best remembered for its songs set to disco beats that the masses simply loved.
Bollywood has many films in which the protagonists have sung and danced their way into the hearts of the masses. There have been times when the industry has produced films in which the music caters to the sensibility of the youth of the corresponding era.
Abhishek Kapoor’s Rock On! is one of them. The film tells the story of four young members of Magic, a rock band. These characters were played by Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli and Luke Kenny. Farhan played a singer who plays the rhythm guitar, while Arjun was seen as the lead guitarist of the band.
These two characters had an easy connect with the modern-day youth, which explained the film’s success. The sequel Rock On! 2 directed by Shujaat Saudagar couldn’t match up to its predecessor, which had found many fans in urban India.
Music being an important ingredient in the recipe of a commercial Hindi film, it is hardly surprising that Vijay Anand believed that a lively actor like Shammi Kapoor could play a live band drummer named Anil, whose stage name is Rocky, in Teesri Manzil.
Hindi cinema has changed considerably since Kapoor's days as the hero. From time to time, however, there comes a film in which an actor lives the life of a popular musician in the story.
Film-lovers would have distinct memories of Aditya Chopra’s Mohabbatein in which Shah Rukh Khan played the music teacher of Gurukul, an all-boys college whose Headmaster abhors romance.
One controversial film in recent times was Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab, in which Shahid Kapoor stole the show in the role of a musician who consumes cocaine.
Composer A R Rahman produced a fantastic soundtrack for Imtiaz Ali’s musical drama Rockstar in which Ranbir Kapoor played the title role.
In Raj Kanwar’s Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega, Salman Khan was seen as a musician struggling to make an impact in Mumbai.
Sushmita Sen delivered a fine performance as a musician with an adopted child in Tanuja Chandra’s moving underrated tragedy, Zindaggi Rocks.
In Mohit Suri’s Aashiqui 2, Aditya Roy Kapur played a successful alcoholic singer. Shraddha Kapoor, who played the female lead, was seen as a singer in a bar.
Heroes and heroines in Bollywood films need to participate in song-and-dance routines. Some makers take an extra step forward and tell stories about characters who are musicians in their reel lives. Viewers seem to love them – if not always, at least on most occasions.