Exclusive: A New Photo Series Chronicles the Tales of Triumphs at The Dharavi Dream Project
Spearheaded by Adore Models and shot by photographer Toto Nandy, the pictures profile four artists — b-boy Vikram and rappers Mc Sidhu, MC Josh and Siva G
For the past seven years, The Dharavi Dream Project (TDDP) has been leading a vital movement right in the heart of Mumbai. TDDP runs a unique creative institution – an after-school of hip-hop – a one-of-its-kind place of learning in the whole of Asia. The afterschool, founded by media company Qyuki and music label Universal Music India, offers courses in the five elements of hip-hop (rapping, beat-boxing, b-boying, DJing and grafitti) to the underserved youth living in and around Dharavi. The talent that TDDP houses is brilliant, to say the least; many of you would remember the stellar show they played at the Haq Se Hindustan concert last November as part of Rolling Stone India’s hip-hop series #HaqSeHipHop.
A new photo series brings together four inspiring stories of courage, determination, and talent from TDDP. Helmed by the leading fashion collective Adore Models, the series profile four artists — b-boy Vikram and rappers Mc Sidhu, MC Josh and Siva G. The photographs have been shot by Toto Nandy with a purpose to highlight each artist’s unique identity. “Through these images, we want to bring you closer to their hardships, their struggles, their journey. We want these stories to travel around the globe,” says Nishant Jadhwani of Adore Models.
“I’ve been breaking since 2012. What begun as expression on the streets is now a nation-wide movement. My breaking journey took off in the narrow lanes of Dharavi and I honed my craft on the gravel and dust, manoeuvring the bumps and holes in the road. No obstacle was too big. From there to the flat floors of The Dharavi Dream Project (TDDP) and then to the world stage and beyond, it’s been an incredible journey and I’m lucky I get to share my knowledge with the new generations of breakers in India. No ceiling is too high. There is opportunity for all.”
“The artist life is tough. We have to face our paths headon, confronting the ups and downs while embracing the lessons time brings us. Every step counts. Word hard and let your success make the noise.”
“An artist’s life is anything but easy. Hustle, struggle, failure; these are everyday realities. But for me, obstacles have never been anything but stepping stones to success. I believe in myself, I’m motivated by my own lines, I think that nothing is impossible. If you trust in yourself and work towards your dream, you can eclipse every sun. Hip-hop has transformed my life. The people who teased me for my style of dressing are now calling me a rapper. Before, I used to look in the mirror and see a normal human being. Now, I’m that one in a billion who changes everything. None of this would’ve been possible without hard work and passion. With every box I tick off, I remind myself: this is just the beginning.”
“Rap is my medium to connect with the world; it’s my form of expression. When people think of Dharavi, they call to mind the stereotypes of thieves and drug addicts but I want people to know that Dharavi is a neighborhood of artists and creators — people who are changing culture as we know it. There’s nothing we can’t do. From being the foreground for India’s rap revolution to raising and influencing the country’s hip-hop heavy hitters, Dharavi has proved to be limitless for its inhabitants. I’m proud to hail from Dharavi and I’m glad my voice and words resonate with people.”
Photographer: Toto Nandy
Stylist: Nazneen Parmar
Make-up: Laksh Singh
Conceptualised by: Adore Models