Zoya Akhtar’s latest film, Gully Boy, takes inspiration from the lives of Indian rappers Naezy and Divine. The director first came across Naved Shaikh, aka Naezy, when Dil Dhadakne Do editor Anand Subaya made her watch the video for his song ‘Aafat’. She later met rapper Vivian Fernandes, aka Divine, backstage at a concert in Mumbai.
In an interview with mid-day, Zoya recounted her experience with the young rappers saying, “Both Naezy and Divine have very distinct styles — their singing, writing, flow is different. What's common is that they both are from the minority community and have come from hard places. But, Naezy grew up with a lot of family, while Divine didn't. What was also appealing was that they speak the truth, and they engage with their socio economic space — they really speak for a lot of people.”
While she had plenty of kind words for Divine and Naezy, one comment of hers didn’t seem to sit right with the ‘Aafat’ singer. During the interview, Zoya said that what she like the most about the rappers was that they were “hardcore feminists”. She added, “I don't think they know the word. But it's in the way they talk about women, and also in the way they don't talk about them. There is also no cynicism in them, and they are all about making a change.”
In response to the interview, Naezy tweeted, “We are hardcore feminists and we don’t know the word. Okay.”
Fellow Indian rapper Prabh Deep echoed his sentiment.
Naezy later posted a clarification that read, “I think what she meant is that we don't label it as feminists or feminism but it shows in our words and actions. She knows us very well, I think we’re good.”
(With inputs from mid-day)