In a recent exclusive interview with DhakaTribune’s Ahmmed Sharjin Sharif, Rana and Tabib talks about their life, music, and the stories behind the camera
A rap video featuring two street children became a social media sensation back in May. The rapper in the video named Rana rapped about the stark realities of living as a child on the streets of Dhaka, and surprised everyone with his skills, and talent. He became known as the "Dhakaiya Gully Boy" and released three rap videos since then. Each of the tracks rapped by Rana were written and composed by Mahmud Hasan Tabib from Dhaka University's Department of Arabic Language and Literature. In a recent exclusive interview with Dhaka Tribune’s Ahmmed Sharjin Sharif, Rana and Tabib talked about their life, music, and the stories behind the camera.
Everyone knows Rana from your videos. How did you find him?
Tabib: Last year I was crossing Salimullah Muslim (SM) hall with my motorcycle. He stopped me, and wanted to ride my bike. I took him with me. While roaming around the campus with him I asked if he could sing, and he sang a rap song. I am myself a music enthusiast, and felt that he was a kid but he has the energy in his voice to be a rapper. This is how I met Rana. Later I learned more and more about his life, and started writing lyrics from them.
What is the reason behind the name 'Gully Boy'?
Tabib: Since I saw the Bollywood film Gully Boy, I started to think about all the stories of the street (gully) kids of Dhaka. The name came from there. Also when I started to develop the lyrics the word “gully boy” was flowing quite nicely.
Your songs have portrayed some harsh realities. How did this realization come?
Tabib: I do not know how much reality it portrays but I wrote from everything I saw around me. The people who live around me, the places I have visited or even the things around my campus. I wrote everything I saw.
How did you start rapping?
Tabib: I grew up in the city of Manikganj, and it was kind of a trend there when I was in class nine. Some of the people I knew ran some underground hip hop bands back there. I became introduced to the world of rap thru them. I started trying from back then.
Who are your inspirations?
Tabib: I love Eminem, and his music. But the best rap to me is some very inspiring Bangla poems in our literature. I love the Bidrohi poem by Kazi Nazrul Islam. It has inspired me so much.
How can music influence the society?
Tabib: Music always changes the society. In this case I want to say that rap music can play a huge part in influencing, and change our society for the better. The music should not just read out a message, It must be presented in such a way so that it can distinguish between good and evil.
Did you get contacted by anyone from the music industry?
Tabib: Yes. Quite a few companies have contacted me. I just want to say to the music executives of our country that they should be a bit more friendly towards young musicians.
Who financed these music videos?
Tabib: All of the videos were financed by myself.
Will the Gully Boy end in these three parts or are you planning to release more?
Tabib: For now there will be just three parts. Changes can be made later, if needed.
What is your future plan with music?
Tabib: Music is my passion and hobby. I want to use my music to improve people’s mentality.
What is your future plan?
Tabib: I want to complete my masters, M Phil, and Ph D from Dhaka University. I want to be engaged in writing throughout my life, and also become an entrepreneur at some point of my life.
How sincere do you think our society or government is to these deprived children?
Tabib: I do not think that government only means the bureaucrats, parliament members, and ministers. I think each citizen is part of the government. We have elected the people's representatives to manage the country. I think the present government is sincere about the interest of the people. However, the correct information must be disclosed to the government. I am trying to get the government's attention in this regard. If that is possible, a huge chunk of the problems that underprivileged children face could be solved soon.
Do you (Rana) want to study?
Rana: Yes I want to complete my education.
What do you want to do when you grow up?
Rana: I want to become a doctor or a rapper.
What do you do now?
Rana: I used to do very labour intensive jobs before. Now I study.
How does your family run?
Rana: My father lives in Faridpur and makes fishing accessories, and my mother works as a house maid at different houses in Dhaka.
Where do you live?
I live in the Kamrangirchar slum in Dhaka.