What do Banjo, Dangal, Phillauri and Gully Boy have in common? The lead stars in these films, apart from being versatile actors, have also tried to prove their mettle in rapping. And the trend is becoming the hottest rage in Bollywood. While some in the industry say this helps generate more publicity for the film, others feel that this genre only suits professionals.
Actor Anushka Sharma, the latest actor-turned-rapper (for a song in Phillauri), says, “When I first heard Naughty Billo in the recording studio, it caught on with me. I rapped a portion just for kicks. And before I knew, I had turned a rapper! It’s a promotional video for the film.” Last year’s Dangal also saw Aamir Khan rapping for the song, Dhaakad.
What’s the music frat’s take on it? Rapper Raftaar says, “It’s a killer combination. Because actors have a strong fan following, it automatically gets the song more eyeballs.” Music director Tanishk Bagchi also says: “Even if it is (a marketing strategy), there’s no harm as long as the song sounds good.”
Music director duo Sachin-Jigar, who worked with actor Varun Dhawan on two rap songs for Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania (2014) and ABCD 2 (2015), agree, but say such songs don’t necessarily enhance the musical score of the film. “Some stars are gifted and have a flair for music, while for others, it’s just about lending their name to the music for the extra hype.”
However, there are some who feel the trend will fade soon. “I don’t think it’s here to stay, because it’s not what you can become in a day. I believe that in India, you need a Bollywood star to get attention, and that’s probably the reason they are using a Bollywood actor,” says rapper Hard Kaur. “But I think it’s great that they are giving attention to hip-hop and taking note of the underground by making films like Gully Boy,” she adds.
Baba Sehgal, one of the first artists who brought rap to the country, too, doesn’t endorse actors turning rappers. “I don’t call it rapping. Just singing 4-5 lines doesn’t make a rap. It’s making fun of that genre of music. I don’t really endorse that. If you want to incorporate rap, then there are plenty of good rappers around. They should take them and acknowledge them,” he says.
Does this trend eat into the domain of professional rappers? “There is no serious threat to the music fraternity as stars are not making a livelihood out of this. Even if a film flops, it’s the music that can sustain a film. That’s the universal law,” say Sachin-Jigar.