Watch: Bombay 70 – An Award-Winning Short Film on Mumbai Rapper Naezy
The just released nine-minute documentary, which won Best Short Film in the Dimensions section of MAMI 2014, tells the story of how a teenage delinquent from a central suburb of Mumbai turned into a rapper
Twenty-two-year-old Disha Rindani may not have decided the subject for her short film when she signed up to compete in the Dimensions section of Mumbai Academy of Moving Images [which requires the under-five minute-films to be centered around Mumbai], but she knew exactly what she did not want to do. Says Rindani, “I didn’t want to romanticize the city.”
It was while reading an article on the internet about 21-year-old rapper Naved Shaikh aka Naezy, a Kurla resident, that she found her perfect subject. Naezy raps in Hindi and Urdu and has written songs about his neighborhood [“Meri Gully Mein” and “Aafat! ”] and making it as a rapper [“Raste Kathin”]. He says, “I grew up in this chawl – my family has been living here since 1935 – so this place and its environment has had a big influence on my music. It is not easy being an artist here because people look down upon you and dissuade you from singing, so I feel I have really achieved something important.”
Rindani found Naezy’s music to be gripping and lyrically enlightening. Says Rindani, whose film on Naezy, titled Bombay 70, released on YouTube on August 14th, “I thought his roots were very interesting, not at all superficial.” Bombay 70, named after Kurla’s pincode, was also declared the Best Short Film under the Dimensions category in MAMI last year.
Although all it took her to connect to Naezy was a Facebook message, Rindani admits that shooting him in the place where he grew up – Kurla – was a like straddling a fence. She wanted her small team, armed with two cameras and a zoom recorder, to not only be as non-obtrusive as possible, but also deal with the subject sensitively. Naezy comes from a conservative Muslim family where pursing music is considered haram. “Of course, as camera people, we were being invasive! Since I did not want to offend the community he lives in, I tried to involve the curious neighbors in the film,” she says.