"Brother, you rap!"
"Basically it's a long story," says Fawan a.k.a. Amaze, a professional rap artist, in reference to his music journey. Doning a military cap to match his military pants coupled with his nonchalant stance, he exudes style and a hep attitude. His black T-shirt has the name Slumgods printed in fluorescent green with a font reminiscent of the Arabic dialect.
Fawan embarks on his tumultous journey as his father sends him to "something like a boarding school in Poona," he narrates. "I was around eight years old, away from home, no friends to interact with, nothing! Also it didn't help that I was physically weak and was never be able to fight back," he says with abomination. Driven by this frustration, he spent most of his time writing stories with him as the protagonist and his current situation as the plot. "It was how I voiced my feelings," he explains.
But after months of dedicated writing and venting, there came a point when the stories no longer satisfied him. "I would have to stretch each story really far! This is because I would divide it into parts: first one simply described my predicament, then another one was about what my brain thought of the situation, and finally a conclusion based on what should be done ahead," Fawan reveals with contemplation. In his search for a less tedious medium, he continued to take solace in words. That is when he took fancy to a Hindi poem called 'koshish karne walon ki kabhi haar nahin hoti.' Deeply stirred by this, he gradually started writing short poems, where the essence was still intact.
"When I was around twelve, my closest friend from Poona, who had a computer at home, came to meet me in Dharavi and I showed him my poems," he continues. "His reaction completely befuddled me, he said 'Brother, you rap!'." I got really confused because I didn't know what rap was. So I turned to the Internet to comprehend the art and get a proper flow in my work. My confidence grew as I got well versed with techniques used by famous rappers and then started devising my own techniques," he says with shinning eyes. A chance visit by a friend from Poona, became the watershed marking his metamorphosis from a young Fawan, still dappling with hitting the right notes to Amaze, a confident and extremely passionate rap artist.
The theme of Fawan's tracks even today continue to be based on personal circumstances and societal issues that frustrate him and make him feel powerless. An obvious take from his story writing days is the fact that his raps too have two parts: one is the the problem itself and the other is the possible solution drawn from his experiences. The idea behind this he says is to inspire all those people who are experiencing something similar in their lives and are looking for hope.
"Yaa, 1 minute. Ho Gaya kya? Ho Gaya? Chalu hai? Mein do minute mein aata hun," says a busy Amaze to his crew from Slum Gods. "Basically, we are a hip-hop collective crew from Dharavi. We come quite often to Carter Road for cyphers where crew mates and artists from mumbai jam together and we shoot that; and it's like an event," he says explaining the men with cameras under umbrellas shooting young boys B-boying in the rain.
One might say that this is what prodigies are all about. As an audience, we see the incredible talent, but we are not privy to the story behind that talent. Circumstances and an attitude to keep going creates and hones that which is inherent. In rapper Amaze, the sense of powerlessness incurred by difficult circumstances, takes the shape of hapless frustration. But the outcome is a poetry that simultaneously eases his pain and inspires others to not give up.