Inspiring tale of Mumbai's delivery boys in the day and rappers by night

Updated: May 05, 2019, 08:04 IST | Anju Maskeri

Delivery boys in the day and rappers by night. Here's how an emerging hip hop collective from Dharavi is finding its voice on YouTube

Inspiring tale of Mumbai's delivery boys in the day and rappers by night
The M-Town Boys practice either at Dharavi or Shivaji Park. Pic/Ashish Raje

Dharavi resident Prathamesh Sanjay Ghode's mornings are usually spent helming a tiffin service that he runs with his mother, Pranali. Once he has wrapped up packing off the day's dabbas, he caters to MC Pat, his alter ego. Ghode is a rapper and songwriter with M-Town Boys, a hip-hop collective, whose members include b-boys, beat boxers and dancers from Dharavi. Most of the nine members in the team have day jobs as delivery boys, but make time for their passion when there's no call of duty.

Formed in 2016, it's one of the many collectives that the neighbourhood has spawned over the years. But the M-Town Boys (acronym for Matunga Labour Camp) hadn't really known fame until now.

Recently, their new song, Mere Hood Jaisa Koi Nahi garnered 4.6 lakh views on YouTube, along with a compliment from rapper Dilin Nair aka Raftaar. Serendipitously, they were also approached by Cornerstone Sport and Private Ltd, the public relations agency that also handles Virat Kohli, to come on board. "Composer Ram Sampath had roped us in to perform at a fundraiser, which is when Bunty Sajdeh, the CEO of the athlete management firm, spotted us. He thought we had potential," says Manas Dhivar, 21, the band's frontman. For the last three years, the band has been consistently and relentlessly churning out music. "I started writing when I was in junior college. It's the time when the Nirbhaya rape incident had taken place. Like most, I was angry. The sensational media coverage just made it worse," he says. At the time, he wrote a piece titled Atyachar, recorded it and uploaded it on an obscure video platform. "I got 25 views, and that was enough," laughs Ghode.

Ghode likes to call his songs, 'conscious rap', a term to denote songs that contain uplifting messages that can propel radical social change. "If you see, Dharavi is a breeding ground for hip hop. By that, I don't mean a dance form, but a culture or a way of life. All of us have opinions on what ails society and we are trying to find a medium to express it," says Dhivar, who was also a part of the dance crew in the song Mere Gully Mein with Ranveer Singh and Siddhanth Chaturvedi in
Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boy.

For now, the biggest challenge for the collective is ensuring the band members stick around and create more music. The band either practises in Dharavi or at Shivaji Park. "The problem is some of us work in the day, while others have night shifts which makes it difficult for all of us to come together," says Dhivar. Ghode adds that over the years, many have dropped out due to personal commitments. "It's not easy, but we are finding ways to make it work," he adds.

Also Read: Rapping politicians on the knuckles

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