Mumbai: Rapper, eyewitness ask brave questions about Elphinstone Stampede tragedy in song

Updated: Dec 10, 2017, 15:32 IST | Faisal Tandel | Mumbai

Catsbak and Mc Benn wonder, in their new bilingual Elphinstone Stampede Rap Song, where Mumbai's famed spirit was on that fateful September day when it was crushing each other in a tearing hurry for safety

The Elphistone Bridge stampede of September 29, 2017, that killed 23 people shook the daily commuter in all of us. "It could have been me" has been a recurring thought ever since. Now, a rap song by Cajetan Reddy (Catsbak) and Benjamin Yangal (Mc Benn), and produced by Robert Metri, is trying to bring the spotlight back on the incident. With lyrics like "They who Bezuban, Gawah di apni jaan, Nah thi unki pehchan, Murdo mein na zindo mein"; "Unity of Mumbai is what I'm proud of, but why does it crash, when we are in real need of it'; and "Maut ko saamne dekh sabko lagti apni jaan pyaari", the two rappers are trying to say that sometimes along with the government, it's humanity and how an ordinary person reacts to a situation as well, that counts.

Rappers Cajetan Reddy (Catsbak) and Benjamin Yangal (Mc Benn). Pic/Atul Kamble
Rappers Cajetan Reddy (Catsbak) and Benjamin Yangal (Mc Benn). Pic/Atul Kamble

The inception
Diva resident Reddy, 31, who works at a digital marketing firm at One Indiabulls, as an administration manager, narrowly missed being a part of the stampede on that fateful day. "I missed my regular slow train to Parel, and instead took a fast train till Dadar, then a slow and disembarked on the Elphinstone Road platform. So I was on a different bridge. But, when I heard, I rushed to the spot, as I had to see if any of my office colleagues were there. I did find one my colleagues in a terrible condition half way, clothes filthy and with no shoes on, and he told me that he had been helping pick up the dead bodies." He recalls seeing a mad rush and chaos, hearing the sirens and noticing people were only thinking about themselves, trying to escape. "I think if we really had the Mumbai spirit, this wouldn't have happened.

All people wanted to do was help themselves, and not others. I know we can blame the government, and we should, as we pay taxes, and need to be looked after, but we all should have behaved better as well." Reddy says that in a few days, everything went back to normal, with people using the same bridge, "But whenever I walk on that bridge, I can feel the pain of the people and the entire incident is so fresh, it keeps repeating in my mind, since there were a lot of stories, videos and images floating on WhatsApp and social networking sites," he says.

The song
It was then that Reddy started writing. After he was approached by his friend Robert Metri, who ran a YouTube channel, they decided to make a song. Reddy roped in Yangal, 19, a resident of Matunga and a FYBcom student and Hindi rapper who was already rapping with Dharavi Rocks. Yangal has also worked with Yashraj Films in their upcoming movie Hichki, and in an Amazon Prime web series, Lakhon Mein Ek.

Reddy, who has always been a rapper by passion, and Yangal started jamming and wrote down Hindi and English lyrics for the song they simply called the "Elphinstone Stampede Rap Song". "We managed to complete the lyrics in three days and recorded it soon after. Other friends helped us make the video, and mix and master it, and in a week, we were done," he says. The video, which has been shot at various spots at Elphinstone and Dadar stations, now has almost 10,000 views, a count that is
increasing by the day.

Yangal is surprised they have got such an overwhelming response. "We didn't even imagine that the video would be such a hit," he said. Reddy says the song has been dedicated to all the people who have lost their lives in the tragedy. "By creating the song, we just want to show that no matter what tragedy hit us, we are still united," said Reddy, who is now planning to pen a new song on the sexual assault menace in the city.

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