Amidst the bustling subculture of Indian hip-hop and rap productions that finds its place in Youtube today, there is a 10-minute short film called Bombay 70 that had been showcased in the MAMI film festival in 2014 and had gone on to win the Best Short Film award in the Mumbai Dimensions category. This heartfelt story of an unassuming teenager named Naved Shaikh from the chawls of the Bombay-70, Kurla West is not the journey of the hip-hop pioneer Naezy as we know him as, but a journey of self-discovery. Growing up in a socially backward neighbourhood, Naved recounts his childhood as a time when he would often roam through the alleys with young brigands, shop-lifting cricket balls and vandalizing cars describing it in colourful mumbaiyya slang. The turning point in his life seems to have come after he had to spend a night in the lock-up. It wasn’t the very humiliation of it that had affected him but the fact that it had brought pain to his doting mother. Hereon, Naved realized that like many kids in his community, he had chosen a path of self-destruction, and that he had to do something about it. As a result, Naezy was born.
Naved took inspiration from his experiences and through the worldview that Bombay 70 had provided him, so much so, that he started writing in a lucid juxtaposition of Hindi, English, and Urdu, with a voice that was essentially of the masses and for them.
Naved took inspiration from his experiences and through the worldview that Bombay 70 had provided him, so much so, that he started writing in a lucid juxtaposition of Hindi, English, and Urdu, with a voice that was essentially of the masses and for them. He mentions Sean Paul as one of his first influencers whose rap lyrics he would memorize to impress girls. As he saw the audience cheering along his rhythm, he understood that he too had a voice, and that voice had a power to talk about your frustrations, vices, and to bring change. In an interesting shot, Naved does a rap bit for a ‘Broadband for everyone’ campaign as a gathering of youngsters from the local neighbourhoods swarm around him. Even in that seemingly mundane activity, he puts his soul in his writing and tells his story telling them that, ‘I was like you…wandering around, wasting time…’, basically driving home the point that Broadband can be used for self-improvement. Not a fantasy by any means but his own experience of creating hand-held videos with an iPad and uploading them to YouTube.
Zoya Akhtar’s film Gully Boy is dedicated to the ‘original gully boys’ Divine and Naezy and deservedly so. Watching Bombay 70 again, you can’t help but find parallels between Muraad’s story and the story of Naved Shaikh. And this is probably true for a lot of hip-hop artists whose work has a powerful voice. This voice cannot be manufactured or replicated. You have to have lived it, to bring that authenticity in your lyrics and on-screen. If you have followed the much-publicized diss battle between Raftaar and Emiway Bantai, you may have noticed a line in Emiway’s video where he mentions Naezy as one of the first to have written rap like that, while dissing almost the entire template of the incumbent hip-hop scene. That speaks a lot about the ethos that he evokes amongst his peers.
Check out Emiway’s diss here:
Leaving you here with what Hip-hop stands for, in his own words: “Hip-hop isn’t just about money and girls. Hip-hop is also about ideologies. It is also about bringing about change into society. It is also about truth.”
Bombay 70 – Short Film (MAMI’14)