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  Entertainment   Bollywood  22 Feb 2019  Politics with prose

Politics with prose

Published : Feb 22, 2019, 1:21 am IST
Updated : Feb 22, 2019, 1:21 am IST

Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy has given a new impetus to India’s election campaign as political parties try to outdo each other through rap battles.

Still from Banda Apna Sahi Hai
 Still from Banda Apna Sahi Hai

Gully gully mein rap hai, all thanks to Zoya Akhtar’s latest release, Gully Boy, which sees an effervescent Ranveer Singh mouthing off slick lyrics to even slicker beats. And though the film is inspired by the life story of two of Mumbai’s OG street rappers, Divine and Naezy, the film has now taken gully rap to every corner of the country and it looks the politicians of our country also couldn’t resist the charms of a peppy rap track and have decided to turn to rap to rake in votes. In the run-up to the General Elections 2019, both the Congress and the BJP, two of the most ferocious contenders in the race, have each come up with their own rap tracks, which do a great job of glorifying their respective party while throwing shade at the other.

It all started with BJP’s Azadi rap video, which called for a ‘Congress-mukt’ country after focussing on the long list of alleged scams dogging the party. But not to be one-upped by their rival, Congress soon shared their own version of the “Azadi” rap song, which focussed on the adage, ‘Darr ke aage azaadi hai,’ (Beyond fear lies freedom) and in true gully rap fashion, threw some serious burns at the BJP with catchphrases like ‘Chowkidaar chor hai’, ‘Godi Media’ and guess what, a laundry list of alleged scams dogging the ruling party.

Then, on February 13, BJP let drop Banda Apna Sahi Hai, which was nothing like their previous rap track. While the latter video, made up mostly by furiously assembled montages, looked quite amateurish, the former has all the makings of a well-made song video, complete with baggy clothes-and-goggle-wearing rappers, badass hip hop moves and of course, the trademark ‘gully walk’, which sees the rapper saunter through gullies, rapping. The video even ends with a rousing phrase – How’s the Josh? (“High sir”, is the automatic reply in the video), and of course, ‘Jai Hind’.

These tit-for-tat moves, which are like a veritable social media rap battle, have sent voters a signal that rap songs are now a part of mainstream political campaigning. Rapper Tony Sebastian from Dopeadelicz says that rap is the perfect conduit for exploring political issues because of the nature of the genre. He says, “The idea behind rap is to talk about what is happening in society and bringing about change and that is the same thing that political parties are trying to do, they are giving speeches and trying to create change. I think rap is ultimately the voice of the state, the voice of the people, so it creates more of an impact than a speech. If someone is giving a speech, no one would bother to listen to it, but if someone is rapping on the street, possibly there are going to be more people standing and listening to what he is trying to say.  I think whatever the political parties are missing in their speeches, they are delivering it through our songs.”

Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill, however, feels that rap songs are a great way to connect with the youth. He says, “It is an effective tool for connecting and communicating with the youth. Today to catch their attention span and imagination, we have to communicate in a language that they understand. The definition of politics being attached to serious business is changing at a fast pace. The youth wants to approach and pursue politics with new technology. Rap is the flavour of the season, so why not use this new medium of communication.”

Official Spokesperson of Congress, Manne Krishank echoes this thought as he says, “Young voters were given bundles of promises by BJP during their 2014 election run, but after coming to power they significantly ignored the youth. With the help of social media platforms, we are making rap music with short videos on the failures of BJP because we believe in both the Hosh and Josh of the yuva of this country who can raise and put down governments.”

But BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye refutes the allegations and asserts, “Basically, BJP is always with the young generation. The language of youth is different and so, we work according to what's trending with them. Also, a lot of young people follow the BJP and support its ideologies, so the response to these videos has been great.”

BJP Spokesperson Shaina NC however, says that though the BJP has its fair share of trendy videos, the party is careful to not go overboard and become an ‘entertainment party’. She says, “You have to decide whether you are a political party or an entertainment party. BJP comes up with trendy things that actually talk about what we have done and what the issues are. So, we do have a vision plan which is expressed in a language that appeals to the youth, but we also have to distinguish between serious political issues vis-a-vis being an entertainment industry. It is about striking the right balance.”

Tags: gully boy, banda apna sahi hai