Born and raised in the slums of and around Khirki Village, a group of young boys is claiming the streets of Delhi with their hip-hop moves. Having found a vocation in this dance genre, they have adopted the name Slumgods of Khirki Extension — the Delhi Chapter of the popular Slumgods of Mumbai.
Formed in 2010 by He Ra, the group’s members are settled in South Delhi’s urban villages. “I have been breaking (a dance form) since 1999. It is something that comes naturally to me,” says He Ra.
The boys have successfully performed at several university fests and music concerts. Hemant Dhyani, whose street name is MC Heam, informs about his project Khirkee 17 saying, “We use some of the money from these gigs to design T-shirts, and the rest is distributed among the artists.” Talking more about the project, Mahesh, aka MC Freezak, says, “We sell printed T-shirts on our Facebook page. It helps us spread the word and make money to sustain what we are doing.”
Wanting to spread their art, they teach kids B-boying in their native villages. “In Delhi, we meet regularly at Khoj Studios in Khirki Extension, and invite people to join us,” says MC Heam.
However, it is not as easy as it seems. As the years pass, some members feel the need to earn for their family and consider full-time jobs. “Today, there are 30 boys in the group. Initially there were 70 but some left in search of jobs. We are trying to get all the boys together,” says MC Heam. Ask one of the present members, Rishi aka b-boy Ric, about his future dreams and he says, “I like what I do and it comes from the heart but I too want a regular job so that I can support my family.”
Money constraint is also the reason why the boys are unable to travel for shows. “The boys in the Mumbai Chapter are signed by a creative network, backed by singer-composer AR Rahman and filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, which gets them featured in films and TV,” informs MC Heam. He adds, “The actors-filmmakers want to highlight our social background, which we are not comfortable with. We want people to appreciate our talent and not sympathise with us.”
The decision to not to be part of reality shows, roots from the same concern. “Reality shows are scripted and we are told to act and behave in a certain way. We can’t project a false image to demand sympathy votes,” says MC Heam.
Instead, these B-boys look forward to international championships to showcase their talent on the global platform. “Earlier, it was difficult to convince people to have faith in us but now the prospects of B-boying are bright. Event organisers from different backgrounds are showing interest in the underground hip-hop scene in India,” says MC Heam.
The boys are dedicated to the extent that some of them even practice after their work hours. For them, the only high is to be recognised as Slumgods!