The Dharavi Project: A.R. Rahman & Shekhar Kapur Support The Talented Youngsters Of Dharavi

Swagata Dam , 16 Jan 2015
A.R. Rahman and Shekhar Kapur launch The Dharavi Project
A.R. Rahman and Shekhar Kapur launch The Dharavi Project

Being an ardent music lover, I have always been a huge admirer of A.R. Rahman and his incredible music. Needless to say, it was a huge deal for me to attend an event graced by him yesterday. But what made this occasion a lot more special is the talent that a bunch of youngsters oozed on stage. I am not exaggerating – I was tear-eyed when I stepped out of the venue post the event! You will soon know why.

Mr. Samir introducing the wonders of Dharavi
Mr. Samir introducing the wonders of Dharavi

So I went to Dharavi (which happens to be the largest slum in Asia) in Mumbai to cover the launch of The Dharavi Project. There were hundreds of onlookers peeking inside the Ambedkar hall to get a glimpse of this Rahman and ace filmmaker, Shekhar Kapur. Fortunately, I was one of the very few who got to witness this momentous event so closely.

Mr. Max and Mr. Sanyal talk about the The Dharavi Project
Mr. Max and Mr. Sanyal talk about the The Dharavi Project

Leading record label Universal music and Qyuki, a multi-channel network (co-founded by Rahman and Kapur along with the former MD Digital of Disney, Samir Bangara), together announced The Dharavi Project. The one-of-a-kid initiative aims to fund the expansion of the music and dance school in Dharavi, established by Qyuki last year. The school intends to discover fresh talent from the area and nurture it through the program. The CEO of Universal Music Group, Max Hole and the Managing Director of Universal Music, Devraj Sanyal have also extended their support to this project wholeheartedly.

A.R. Rahman and Shekhar Kapur encourage young talent
A.R. Rahman and Shekhar Kapur encourage young talent

Devraj says, “Our vision is to see one of these young prodigies become national stars. If the next Honey Singh came from Dharavi, that would be the coolest thing in the world!”

A.R. Rahman and Shekhar Kapur encourage young talent
A.R. Rahman and Shekhar Kapur pose with the SlumGods

Samir added, “We have been working on it for the last one year. We had set up a small studio facility in the heart of Dharavi to get talent from there. There were different groups from the age five to 21. Seeing them perform today was great. We want to take it to the next level. We want to find the next big talent and give them equal opportunity.”

A.R. Rahman and Shekhar Kapur encourage young talent
A.R. Rahman, Mr. Max, Devraj Sanyal, Mr. Samir and Shekhar Kapur smile for the photogs

Soon after a brief introduction, the set was put on fire by the Dharavi youngsters (they call themselves the SlumGods), who delivered a mind-boggling performance. A fusion of the Dil Se title track accompanied by some interesting rapping and beat-boxing – everything about their performance left me in awe.

Shekhar Kapur and A.R. Rahman
Shekhar Kapur and A.R. Rahman

One of the performers’ mother broke into tears when Rahman said he wants to compose a song with them. Naturally, it was a moment of pride for every Dharavi resident.

Rahman meets his talented young fans
Rahman meets his talented young fans

Both Rahman and Kapur were also quite emotional after seeing the performance delivered by the Dharavi kids. All in all, it was an event to remember. Cheers to the bundles of talent and to Devraj, Samir, Rahman, Kapur and Max for encouraging and supporting them.

Pix: Viral Bhayani for MissMalini

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