Gully Boy’s Murad, played by Ranveer Singh, is inspired by 25-year-old Mumbai based underground rapper Naved Shaikh aka Naezy. In this interview with indianexpress.com, Naezy reveals how much of the Zoya Akhtar film is actually based on his life and music.
Did you like Gully Boy?
I cannot really define my state. I am not too happy, not too sad. It is a mixed feeling. I am feeling good as well as scared with the kind of exposure I am getting. People have come to know too much about us.
How do you think Gully Boy will affect the underground rapping scene in the city?
After watching this film, every gully will have a rapper. It is becoming a cult. It has become a trend already. And since we live in the internet age, it doesn’t take too much time and effort for someone to become famous.
Anybody and everybody can make a video and put it up online. Everybody has got a platform today. So, we are going to have a lot of rappers around, and rapping will be the next big thing in India. The Gully rap or the Bombay hip-hop scene is going to blow, and we’ll have some great rappers and some not so good ones, but then the ‘janta’ will decide their fate. And I think it is our responsibility to show a direction to the new rappers. So, we have to make sure that every release is powerful, and that we represent our art in a responsible way.
Bollywood has just come to us now. We were never dependent on Bollywood. We never did Bollywood tracks as then we wouldn’t have the freedom to do things our way. We didn’t want to do what Yo Yo Honey Singh and Badshah do. We want our music to stay authentic, but at some point, we need some validation too I guess. We are now slowly making music for Bollywood as that’s the way to attract janta’s attention. But our goal is that our music becomes mainstream and that we don’t have to depend on anyone, just like the rap artistes in the US.
How authentic did you find Gully Boy?
When we first read the script, in 2014-15, when it was still a scratch and was being written, we had decided that we’ll make sure that we give a lot of inputs and feedback, so that the film will turn out as authentic as it can be. We did try to make sure that the film turns out more ‘Indie’. But, after a point, we were powerless as it is still Bollywood, and the makers have to think about the market too. So then we also sacrificed a bit. Before watching the movie, I was a little sceptical, but after watching the film, I thought Zoya ma’am has made sure that she doesn’t make it too commercial or too Indie. It is a good balance of a commercial Bollywood film and authentic underground rap.
The moviegoers have got to watch something new and the rap artistes also got some masala in their story. I was really worried that there will be too much masala in the film, but I was very happy that it has turned out the way it did. It shows how responsibe and driven Zoya ma’am is. She has done justice.
Now there are two versions of “Mere Gully Mein” song. Your version and the one in the film. Which one is your favourite? Do you think the film’s song has become more famous than the original?
For me, of course, our song holds more importance, it is closest to our hearts because we have made it.
Then while shooting the song for the film, since I couldn’t be around, Ranveer Singh had to do it. He did it in a way that he is giving me a tribute. So personally I am not unhappy with the song, but the janta has showed more love for the original. The new viewers who are coming to watch our video after watching the film song are also liking the original version. This is because what a rapper can do, an actor cannot do. And I am not worried that we’ll be overshadowed by the film, not at all.
What do you have to say about the language used in the film?
I was quite sceptical about how they’ll pull that off. We didn’t want them to drag it too much that it looks unreal and shoddy. But again, when I watched the film, I didn’t think they overdid the usage of slangs the way Bollywood is otherwise known to do. It was very well balanced and they have shown the different ways we talk. We use Hindi and Urdu, not slangs.
What do you feel about the love triangle in Gully Boy? Does Safeena exist in your life?
Oh, that! People have irritated me so much by asking who is the Safeena of my life. I had told them about this girl who is mad and does all of these things…and that she doesn’t listen to anyone. So, I think Zoya ma’am took this and made her own character.
Divine appeared in the movie. You didn’t. Is there a reason?
I was travelling. I wanted to clear my mind, so I was away from the scene for a bit too. I was travelling and thinking. That’s it.