Vivian Fernandes, who goes by the stage name Divine, is one of the rising talents of the Mumbai music scene, which means that he has come to the attention of Bollywood. But the rapper isn’t hankering for the approval of the Hindi film industry yet, which he thinks is unavoidable but will slot him as a “filler singer” in dance numbers.
Yet, Bollywood likes Divine’s rhythm. Since the launch of the single “Jungli Sher" last month, Fernandes has been getting several offers, he told Scroll.in, but he remains wary. “At least three offers came which I had to reject because they wanted to use my rap as a filler,” he said.
“Jungli Sher" is the hip-hop artist’s first single for the Sony Music label. The music video, in which the singer growls and raps about his life in Mumbai, was shot entirely on an iPhone. “I grew up in the gullies of JB Nagar in Andheri and my songs are about the struggles we face in our lives,” Divine said. Bollywood usually deploys rap to extol the pleasures of drugs, alcohol, fast cars and womanising, but “that’s not what rap is about”, the singer said. “Rap is a weapon for the marginalised to voice their angst, it has a purpose. You look at how hip-hop rose from the streets to the clubs in the West,” Divine added.
Before signing up with Sony Music, Divine independently produced “Yeh Mera Bombay” (2013) and “Meri Gully Mein” (2015), both of which were YouTube hits. The Rolling Stone magazine called “Meri Gully Mein” the best video of 2015. Divine raps about his locality, where people live in abysmal conditions, and his far-from-ideal childhood. “If you don’t have a story, you cannot rap,” he said. “My father was a wastrel, my mother struggled to raise my brother and me and she is my inspiration.”
Like so many 24-year-olds, the singer-songwriter wants to change the world. “My music is not about complaining about things that we don’t have, it is to unite the generation of young people to do something about it,” he said. He is working towards his goals: apart from remixing “Meri Gully Mein,” he will take up the issue of rape in his next song.