Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt-starrer Gully Boy has a lot of buzz going for it. The trailer, the music and now the early reviews post its screening at the Berlin Film Festival has created a lot of anticipation for this Zoya Akhtar film, which releases on 14 February. But how did Zoya, who’s been behind films like Luck By Chance, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Dil Dhadakne Do, zero in on Mumbai’s gully rap scene to make Gully Boy?
Speaking to The Quint recently, Zoya revealed that though she was always into rap and hip hop as a genre, she did not know about the sub culture of gully rap that existed in Mumbai’s chawls and slums till she saw Naezy’s music video Aafat, while editing Dil Dhadakne Do.
I love hip hop, I love the genre of music, I’ve been listening to it through my growing up and I had only engaged with international artistes whether it was Tupac or Eminem or the Fugees, those were the artistes that I would listen to. I didn’t really engage in the space with our mainstream rap scene and then when I was editing Dil Dhadakne Do, my editor at that time Anand Subaya, who’s also a musician, he showed me a music video called Aafat and there was this 21-year-old artiste called Naezy and I couldn’t believe how legit this sound was. Because he obviously had standard beats and he’d obviously just made it on his iPad or iPhone and shot it even on an iPhone and it was this very indi video that he had put out, but you could tell that he was a writer, you could tell that his rhymes were really sophisticated, you could tell that his flow was unbelievable.Zoya Akhtar, Filmmaker
Zoya was so impressed and intrigued by Naezy’s video that she felt compelled to meet him. “So I got so hooked that I keep watching that video again and again and then I found him, I traced him and I had a meeting with him. I was just compelled to meet him and the minute I met him I knew that there’s a story, there’s an entire sub-culture and I am big on sub-cultures, so firstly I was shocked that I didn’t know that it existed and I had to know more of it,” said the Gully Boy director.
And from this meeting with Naezy - began the evolution of what we now know is Zoya’s fourth feature film with Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt.
Here’s a look at the Aafat music video by Naezy, which was published on YouTube 5 years ago, that blew Zoya away.