But with his hood Dharavi under seige from the dreaded Coronavirus, he and a trilingual crew including “Bonz N Ribz” from 7 Bantaiz and MC Altaf – all hip hoppers from one of Asia’s largest urban ghetto – have decided to team up with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Amit Chandra Foundation and BMC to record a progressive rap to bring people together with a right message whilst staying socially distanced.
“ umeed hai sab theek hoga wapas/ umeed hai tum ho slamat/bharosa rakho doctors k kaam pe/bharosa rakho uper wala saath hai…”
The outbreak of Coronavirus in the labyrinthine slum city right in the heart of the financial capital -- among the most congested in the world with over 57,000 shanties, huts and small flats, several of which are illegal, within 2.1 square kilometre radius - has become a public health emergency. Of the total 9123 covid positive patients in the city, 632 have been from Dharavi alone, making it a key hotspot in the Maximum City after the first case was detected on April 1. 20 have died in the meantime.
Using music for the message in three languages - Hindi (read Hinglish), Marathi and Tamil - that are most prevalent in the by lanes, shanties and crushing chawl apartments that pack the 500 acre real estate - the three artists have urged their neighbours and fellow Dharavi residents to stay at home, avoid public spitting, consult doctors and opt for timely tests and necessary precautions.
The trio, popular in their field and neighbourhood fraternity, are known for entertaining others. This time around, they chose to “educate.” Ever since the first phase of the lockdown, the senior rappers of Dharavi have been conducting virtual competitions and even conducting gigs to “deflect the collective fear and confusion,” but as the crisis continues, they figured it is best to take some outside support as well. The NGOs and artist management companies then brought on board a bunch of Bollywood, Tollywood and Marathi A listers and local cult hero rapper Divine to add the glamour quotient to their track and 4.18-minute music video.
Since the outbreak became pandemic, artists from the hip-hop, R&B genre from around the world have created a several songs or posted videos as diverse as a rant turned track by Cardi B to informative yet light-hearted songs about sanitizers that have topped the charts worldwide. From Detroit rapper Gmac Cash to Florida hip-hop artist Smokepurpp or even actors like Rita Wilson, creative artists, DJs and MCs have been blending lyrics with boom bap beats to good effect. Some to ward off boredom. Some to spread the word.
For these Dharavi dudes, this is their debut collaboration of this kind.
“We all recorded our vocal tracks individually with each one of us choosing a language we are most comfortable with and then the beat producer helped in arranging and putting it all together,” says Nishant Mohite, who goes by the rapper name of Bonz N Ribz.
The track 'Stay Home Stay Safe', feels Mc Altaf Shaikh of Gully Gang, aspires to drive home the message of how safety should be of highest importance to everyone.
But it is a lot easier said or sung in this case than done in squalid blocks like Nursing Chawal, Indira Nagar, Muslim Nagar or 90 feet Road, where the approximate human density can go up to 2000 per acre and have already been declared as areas with heavy reporting of positive patients. Despite sealing of neighbourhoods, slums like Dharavi are ticking time bombs.
And in Mumbai there are several such hotspots in its red zones-- from Sion, Worli, Versova’s fishing villages (Koliwada) to the slums of Parel, Byculla and Prabhadevi to just name a few.
“This is a problem for every gully. The careless of a select few is affecting the entire community,” adds Mohite.
Organisations like Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or ATE Chandra Foundation, Roti Bank, Habitat for Humanity among many others have therefore initiated sustained campaigns to raise funds, distribute food and other essentials, inspire a behavioral change using a combination of on ground awareness programmes through posters on social distancing, distribution of masks, and volunteers as well as social media campaigns on PSA guidelines cutting across platforms and mediums. But in the hot and humid summer days, Sebastian admits, if one is cooped up in a crammy 1 room 1 kitchen set up with other family members for days end, “it’s natural that a sense of paranoia and restlessness will take over. Everyone is used to roaming around, soak in the evening breeze. But now people can’t get out,”
These are trying times, feels Bollywood star Suniel Shetty who makes a cameo in the video. “I know the emotion will speak to many.”
…dharavi mein badte jaare iske case/failne roko stay home stay safe…”
Just like the world, the slumgods also live on hope.
SRK, Saifeena, Lata Play Good Samaritans, Donate For Covid-19 Relief
Fighting For A Noble Cause
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the world down to its knees. Not only developing countries like India, even the developed nations like the US are struggling to keep up with the speed at which the deadly disease is spreading. Moreover, there’s a clear shortage of basic medical equipment like masks, sanitisers and hazmat suits that the doctors fighting the pandemic on the front lines require.
Given the trying times we are in, several renowned personalities from the Indian film industry have come forward to help those in need. The donations, both monetary and otherwise, seek to bring the much-needed relief to those struggling to copy with the crisis.
Here’s a comprehensive list of actors and famous personalities from India and the US, who are playing good samaritans and helping their countrymen fight the pandemic.
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1 Comment on this Story
Satinder Chadha140 days ago
Let Ranbir Singh (whatever his real name) go to Dharavi.