Thanks to the Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, at any mention of Dharavi this is what most minds picture.
Although thousands of shabby houses lined up next to each other and congested bylanes are not far from how Dharavi is, there is something else the slum, one of the largest in the world, is getting famous for now. And no, we’re not talking about their leather products this time.
This might come as a shock for most people, but the slums in Dharavi are now home to a burgeoning hip-hop culture, complete with rapping, beatboxing and graffitiing with multiple crews that are active. It began after Slumdog millionaire introduced Dharavi to the world. The world, however, was still not introduced to Dharavi.
Dharavi resident Akash Dhangar, aka Akku, used to feel out of place if he ever visited a trendy restaurant. “Looking at the other diners, we seemed shabbily dressed. From the moment we entered, everybody was staring at us. As I cut into my burger, the patty, unfortunately slipped out, and it was obvious that people were judging us,” he told The Guardian. Dhangar is the founder of Slumgods, an underground hip-hop crew, one of the first ones to start out of Dharavi. The ever-growing group, which now includes graffiti artists, beatboxers, b-boys and b-girls, break-dancers and DJs has collaborated renowned hip-hop artists such as Tokyo-based DJ Sarasa, AKA Silverboombox, dancer-choreographer Prosenjit Guy Kundu, and the California-based MC Mandeep Sethi.
According to Dhangar, for all the artists in Dharavi, hip-hop is now synonymous with the place.
Online music retailer Bajao shot a documentary about this budding culture. The people in the video talk about what brought them into hip-hop and how people around them still do not accept them and true artists and label them as ‘painters’ and ‘dancers’ doing ‘time-pass’.
So the next time you’re in Dharavi looking for leather jackets, look around for some graffiti on the walls, and if you’re lucky, you may also see some street dancers showing off their moves.