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Meet desi rap’s poster boy

Published : Mar 24, 2016, 10:07 pm IST
Updated : Mar 24, 2016, 10:07 pm IST

In 2013, Mumbai-based rapper, Vivian Fernandes, who goes by the moniker Divine, burst into the hip-hop scene after he released his first single, Yeh Mera Bombay.

The video was shot on iPhones at 43 locations across the city in four days.
 The video was shot on iPhones at 43 locations across the city in four days.

In 2013, Mumbai-based rapper, Vivian Fernandes, who goes by the moniker Divine, burst into the hip-hop scene after he released his first single, Yeh Mera Bombay. Last year, his Mere Gully Mein was not only named as the Best Video of 2015 by Rolling Stone magazine, but he was also awarded the Best New Artist 2015 by iTunes and Apple Music in India. He was also named as one of the top six artists to watch out for in 2016 by the BBC Asian Network.

And now the Dharavi-based rapper is back with a new single, Jungli Sher, which is one of the first music videos to be shot entirely on an iPhone. The latest single, that was released on March 18, will be up on Youtube along with the new video this week.

On Jungli Sher: Khiladi mere jungli hain. This song is for all those people who are working very hard to survive. Be it the prostitutes, or the children who are working in the slums. I know that they all want to achieve something in their lives but they somehow cannot. I want to inspire them because they are the ones who have grown up wild.

From the streets of Mumbai to the poster boy of Indian rap: Vivian has come a long way. It was at the age of 13 that Vivian started listening to rap music and by the age of 17, he had his first track. “Initially it took me some time to understand the words, but soon I got over it,” he says.

“I listen to all kinds of music, but for me rap is much beyond its words and music. It is a lifestyle, it’s a stand that you take in the society,” adds Vivian, who idolises Kendrick Lamar, the international rap sensation from US. I wanted to study sound engineering but my family couldn’t afford the tuition fees. So instead, my mother bought me a microphone, which has made me all that I am today.”

Mumbai meri jaan: Of course the city is the most essential element in my life. Had I not experienced what I have in this city and it’s streets, I wouldn’t have been able to write my words or felt the necessity to express them.”

Shooting Jungli Sher: The video for the song has been directed by Vandana Kataria, who has earlier worked on films like Shanghai and Detective Byomkesh Bakshy. The video was shot on iPhone 6s in 43 different locations in the city over four days. Vandana admits that shooting on the phone made the task much easier. “Shooting on iPhone allowed us the comfort of shooting across so many different locations spread all over the city and made it easy to capture people who would have been frightened by a big camera.”

Although most of the shoot went without public or police glare, Vivian adds that it wasn’t all smooth. “We were shooting near Grant Road, when the cops suddenly stepped into the scene. We were told that Dawood’s house was very close and therefore the entire place is under surveillance.” However, as Vivian adds, all’s well that ends well.