From the streets to the celluloid, this rapper duo’s powerful socio-political verses are soon going to be adapted into a Bollywood film, Gully Boy, starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt.
Naezy and Divine, of the Mere Gully Mein fame, are two literally gully (lane)-grown local talents, whose rap-to-riches stories are truly inspiring.
This duo, together and individually, redefined Indian rap and hip-hop, dragging it out of the cliches around cars, girls and alcohol, to the real stories of the streets, dipped in politics and poverty.
A form of protest music/poetry, ‘rap’ emerged from violence, racism, discrimination and poverty in the West. And in India, the movement, through these artists, is bound for yet another resurrection.
26-year-old Divine, aka Vivian Fernandes, lives in the slums of Andheri’s JB Nagar, a place from where his angry and unrelenting music bubbled into the world in 2011. It led him to make history by becoming the first Indian rapper (in freestyle Hindi) for BBC 1 radio show host and celebrity rapper Charlie Sloth’s prominent Fire in the Booth series.
The award-winning rapper rose to fame after the collaborative track Mere Gully Mein with the other gully boy, Naezy aka Naved Sheikh.
Vivian’s solo Jungli Sher currently has 80 lakh views!
“It has been an interesting journey from the days when Indian hip-hop was underground, to now, where it is starting to become nationally known. However, we still have far to go,” Vivian told the Asian Age.
On the other hand, Naved Sheikh began his rapping journey at the age of 13 after being inspired by Sean Paul’s Temperature. He had heard the track for the first time during a DJ event in his Kurla chawl (locality) and soon found himself printing the lyrics to memorise them.
In 2014, Naved aka Naezy unleashed his musical wrath, Aafat shot on zero-budget on an iPad, amassing more than 30 lakh views on YouTube.
Naezy soon became the subject of a documentary Bombay 70, and he landed himself a deal with Only Much Louder, which is one of India’s most prominent alternative culture promoter and management agencies.
Now with Gully Boy, the film by Zoya Akhtar in place, Naezy is going to collaborate on the lyrics with poet and lyricist Gulzar, as reported by The Times of India.
Adding to the new wave of rap and hip-hop, Divine told TOI, “Delhi had a bustling Punjabi rap hip-hop scene. But they made songs about cars, alcohol, girls. We rapped about our gully, our city. It was genuine, authentic Indian hip-hop.”
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With raw words in the local dialect, these young rappers have ushered in a strong Indian literature of bhasha (language) rap. They talk about the government, poverty, corruption, exploitation by the police, and family issues. These are topics that are understandable and relatable to everyone, be it a teen sitting behind his laptop screen, a rickshaw puller or a vegetable seller at the corner of a street.
“Hip-hop ek aisa zariya hai jo hamare desh main bhi badlav la sakta hai (Hip-hop is a way to bring about a change in our country). The masses think that hip-hop is about daaru (alcohol), nasha (intoxication), bling and swag, but if you really look at hip-hop’s antecedents, it was used to bring about a revolution. I want to remove people’s misconceptions and rewrite the history of Indian hip-hop,“ Naezy told TOI.
In the movie poster, the tagline Apna Time Ayega (Our time will come), depicts the tale of the gully boy, Ranveer Singh, who plays an underground Indian rapper and his journey to fame, with his earthy and authentic rapping style. The film is set to release on February 14, 2019.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)