Aniket Raturi talks about the Garhwali rap in Dev Nagri, the underground rap scene in Uttarakhand and more – Exclusive – Mirchi Plus

Dakait, Sez on the Beat and Aniket Raturi’s ‘Dev Nagri’ is a beautiful amalgamation of rap with folk music. While Dev Nagri’s catchy tunes and stunning visuals are an instant hook, it is the Garhwali rap by Aniket Raturi pictured on the Mandaan dance from Uttarakhand that has made it a viral trend on social media.

Mirchi Plus caught up with Aniket Raturi for an exclusive interview where the rapper talks about how he learnt Garhwali for the song, shooting for ‘Dev Nagri’ amidst severe landslides, the rise of Pahadi rap, his thoughts on shows like ‘Hustle’ and more. Excerpts.

How did the idea of blending folk and rap come upon for Dev Nagri?

It was accidental because most of my songs are Hindi Gangsta raps. When I was asked to collab on this song, my initial response was ‘No’. Dakait Bhai has already done such phenomenal rap and I felt there is not much to do when it comes to songs about Uttarakhand. But I gave it a thought and felt that we could do the song from a woman’s perspective, like I am inviting her to the place. I also wanted to do something different and decided to learn Garhwali for the song. To be honest, I still don’t know the language and know only as much as I have written for the song (laughs).

What was that process like?

It was a huge task because I always write in Hindi. I researched a lot and wrote a rough draft of the lines in Garhwali. But I was still confused, but my Garhwali friends told me it was correct. I wrote the final version and showed it to my dadi. It was funny because she had never listened to any of my songs. She read it and said that it was right. I was a little hesitant about shooting for the song because we were doing it for a big brand like Mass Appeal India, which has featured hardcore raps by Divine Bhai and others. But everyone insisted, and we finally did it (Smiles).

What was your experience like shooting for this special song?

Dev Nagiri was shot when there were severe landslides across Uttarakhand. We did not have a choice because once the snow set in, we wouldn’t be able to capture the meadows. The shooting was full of challenges from day 1. At the first location, we had to trek about 18 km and half of our crew got lost. We then found them with the help of drones. We were supposed to shoot for 7 days, but it kept raining, and we couldn’t do anything.

I am not spiritual but there were many instances while shooting Dev Nagiri which made me believe in a supreme power. We were filming in Badrinath and on the first day, our drone crashed into the water. By the time we got it out with the help of locals, it began raining again. A villager came to us and asked if we had visited the Badrinath shrine. We had not even thought about it but went to the temple and prayed for the rains to stop. It was said that the rains would continue for three days but surprisingly, there was a spot right behind Badrinath temple where there were sun rays. This was a different trip altogether because it was raining everywhere else.

In our second location, Gamshali, which is the last village on the China border, there was a severe landslide. The path was blocked because of an avalanche in Draupadi ka Danda. We were stuck for 4 days and our morals were very low. At that time, we also thought of going back to Dehradun and to shoot the remaining portions in Mussoorie. Around this time, a villager told us to visit the Narasimha temple in Joshi Math. The next day we visited the temple and I don’t know how to describe this but the road, which was blocked for 4 days, opened that day. This is the first time that I have had such a spiritual experience. I am a Pahadi Brahmin and everyone in my family are priests. With this experience, I felt that I was reconnecting with my roots.

What are your thoughts on the rise of Pahadi rap in Uttarakhand?

To be very honest, it is not a very big trend here. But it is growing for sure and one of the reasons why I did Dev Nagri was to represent my Garhwali roots and to give it a shoutout! If you listen to Garhwali sounds, you will notice that it has been similar for almost two decades. It has the same instruments and the same DJ beats. So, Dev Nagri I think, is also the first pahadi R and B rap song.

Tell me about the underground rap battles in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand rap is the next big wave and everyone including Raftaar and Badshah have said this. Delhi and Bombay’s sounds are very similar and everyone is a wanna-be Divine. The sounds in Uttarakhand are very fresh. There are rappers like Karma who are doing great music and yes, a lot of freestyle jam sessions happen too.

After Dev Nagri became a hit, have you thought of delving into Garhwali rap?

I don’t want to ruin the language (laughs) and Dev Nagri was very much Dil Se. If in the future I get the vibe, I will do it. Right now, Labels are working with me for my Hindi rap and I don’t want to shift genres.

What are your thoughts on shows like MTV Hustle? Have you thought of joining it?

Shows like Hustle are a great option. I have friends who have been a part of it and if I ever feel like participating one day, I will. My vision is a little different now. Hustle is a good place to market yourself.

A musician you aspire to work with?

It is A. R. Rahman. My father is a music enthusiast and I grew up listening to really good music like those by A. R. Rahman and Lucky Ali. I want to work with him on a background score someday.

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