Posted by Fenil Seta
Actor records a track for Zoya Akhtar’s next; gets nod from ‘Gully Boy’ Divine who is one of the muses for his musical turn
Sanyukta Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; April 5, 2017)
Rapper-composer Vivian Fernandes had been Snapchatting from a popular watering hole in Khar, when Ranveer Singh, who follows the musician across social media platforms, pinged him. “Let’s chill!” the actor wrote, sparking off a memorable evening with the duo, who admire each other’s work, rapping and shaking a leg together.
Ranveer, who has, of late, been dropping by several Khar and Bandra recording studios, is set to play a rapper in Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boys. His character is inspired by real-life rappers Vivian aka Divine and Naved Shaikh, who goes by the rap name Naezy, among other musicians from Mumbai’s underbelly.
“In 2016, I was performing at a (now defunct) club in Lower Parel. Zoya was in the audience and after the show we spoke about Mumbai’s burgeoning hip-hop culture. She had heard my work online and took my number. She then visited my house and told me that she wanted to make a film on Mumbai’s street rappers. Our conversation mainly revolved around my inspirations and ambitions,” he reminisces, adding that after that Zoya and her cowriter, Reema Kagti, visited his gully in Andheri’s JB Nagar where he’d rapped and filmed “Mere Gully Mein”.
The 25-year-old rapper, who was born in a slum and has been living alone since he turned 14, has become synonymous with “the voice of Mumbai streets”, telling stories of people he’s grown up with and paying homage to the wrong side of the city. His 2013 release, “Yeh Mera Bombay”, went viral with the BBC Asia Network playing it repeatedly. He was praised for his high-octane Hindi rap skills and inimitable energy. “Mere Gully Mein”, which followed and featured Naezy, was adjudged the Best Video 2015 by an international magazine.
Divine didn’t know till a couple of months ago that Ranveer plays the leading man.
“He’s a cool guy and already dresses like a rapper so he needs no tips in the fashion department from me. It is one thing to get audiences to wake up and listen to our kind of music, which is not about girls, gold and drugs but about real life in Mumbai. But it is an even greater thing when mainstream actors like Ranveer chose to be a Gully Boy. He’s now a part of our movement,” Divine beams. The film kicks off in November, with Alia Bhatt opposite Ranveer, and is expected to release in 2018. Meanwhile, Divine is working on an extensive music album, which will be released by Sony Music, later this year.
So is he going to debut as a Bollywood composer-rapper with the film? “I would love to because I know that Zoya is keeping it as real as possible. But Ranveer has already been rapping and recording for the film. He knows my songs, 'Jungli Sher', 'Farak' and 'Mere Gully Mein' by heart and keeps singing them. Recently, he recorded a track with a band of rappers too. I’ve heard him rap and he is good at it. I am sure he’ll be great in the film,” Divine signs off with a smile.