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Bombay 70 director Disha Noyonika Rindani reveals why she couldn’t be a part of Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy

Disha Noyonika Rindani’s Bombay 70 had won the first prize at the Mumbai Film Festival four years back for presenting the real-life story of the original Gully Boy Naved Shaikh a.k.a Naezy the Baa

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From the chaotic streets of Kurla in Mumbai, also known as Bombay 70 emerged a boy Nawed Shaikh popularly known as Naezy. He changed the course of rap culture in India. His journey inspired budding filmmaker, Disha Noyonika Rindani, who four years ago made the short film Bombay 70 on his life. The film went on to win at the Mumbai Film Festival, bringing the spotlight on Naezy. In a candid chat with Cine Blitz, the filmmaker talks about Bombay 70 and more…

When did the idea of making a short film about Naezy come to your mind?

I was 21 then. I had dropped out from college, because I wanted to make films and I was not getting to learn anything on those lines. Mumbai Film Festival has a category for under-25 filmmakers called Mumbai Dimensions’, for which you are supposed to make a five minute short film about Mumbai. So I started researching and I had heard a song titled Aafat sung by Naezy, which was composed and sung by him. I could relate to him.

 

How did you approach Naezy?

I identified him and reached out to him on Facebook that was the period in which he had just started getting attention. By then he had two to three songs to his credit. The videos were very amateur, but in those few song the independent spirit was evident and his lyrics and the rap were very powerful. When I approached him, he was clueless and sceptical about what sort of a film will I make? So I began with being friends with him and I made sure that the language isn’t a barrier between us. Wo bhale Urdu me likhta ho, par uski soch bilkul modern hai.

How was the process of making the film?

Naezy agreed to the project. I remember it was the month of Ramadan and he was on the 40-days fasting. Due to this we used to hardly get two hours to talk to him every day. We shot for two days and made a five-minute film which went on to win the first prize at the Mumbai Film Festival. With the prize money, we shot a bit more and extended the film to 10-minutes. After a year of winning at the Mumbai Film Festival I released the extended film in 2014.

 

How difficult was it to make the film?

The place is called Rambachan Chawl in Kurla and Bombay 70 is a prominent Muslim locality. They all are very friendly people, but at the same time they are very private as well. So they were cautious at first. But then I was a 21-year-old young girl then, so it became easier for me to make them believe that I am making a film on this boy who is very talented.

How was Naezy reacting to all this?

At the beginning he was not sure about the project. He used to say that he is just an artist with no connection to films. I just told him that your story makes you unique and people should know it.

What inspired you the most about him?

When I started the research I got to know that there weren’t many rappers in our country. Nawed being a Muslim boy opted to do this, even though it is considered haraam in the Muslim religion and isn’t accepted. Divine was another rapper with him, but he was a Christian and Christianity doesn’t stop you from pursuing it. Nawed was not allowed to take this up as a career.

What did you think about Gully Boy?

I know Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti (filmmakers) had watched the film and I also knew they were making a film on rap culture. I wanted to work with them and I knew Zoya is making a film on Nawed, so I shared that I was interested in working with her. I am a screenwriter myself. I helped them out with some footage I had, but later lost touch due to my prior commitments.

 What next?

I am writing another feature film which I hope gets produced by someone. I was also a co-writer with Konkona Sensharma in the 2016 film The Death in The Gunj. So that’s been my journey.

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