Dartmouth Events

Hip-Hop and the City: A View from Mumbai

A public guest lecture by Ulka Anjaria, Professor of English and Director of the Mandel Center for the Humanities at Brandeis University.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024
4:30pm – 6:00pm
Room 201F, Carpenter Hall
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Lectures & Seminars

Hip-hop has its roots in dense urban spaces in the United States, but what does that look like when it gets transposed to a city like Mumbai, India – at once cosmopolitan and multilingual but also segregated, overcrowded and unequal? This paper is a study of Zoya Akhtar’s 2019 film Gully Boy, which tells the story of Murad Ahmed aka Gully Boy, a rapper born in the largely Muslim, working-class neighborhood of Dharavi, who uses rap to articulate new visions of the city and the place of young men like him within it. Against powerful narratives that either lament Mumbai’s decline from a 19th-century cosmopolitan idyll or celebrate its ascendency to a world-class, capitalist city, Murad’s rap uses rhyme, linguistic innovation and poetry’s unique temporality to articulate an alternative to both teleological narratives. Imagining a subjectivity deeply enmeshed with urban forms and building a poetics from the everyday idioms of Mumbai Street life, Gully Boy outlines a new poetic imaginary that gives voice to the lived experience of a global, 21st-century megalopolis.

Ulka Anjaria is professor of English and director of the Mandel Center for the Humanities at Brandeis University, with research specialties in South Asian literature and film, realism, and the global novel. She is the author of Realism in the Twentieth-Century Indian Novel: Colonial Difference and Literary Form (2012), Reading India Now: Contemporary Formations in Literature and Popular Culture (2019), and Understanding Bollywood: The Grammar of Hindi Cinema (2021), along with essays and chapters in several journals and volumes. She is the editor of A History of the Indian Novel in English (2015) and co-editor (with Anjali Nerlekar) of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Modern Indian Literatures. She is currently working on a monograph tentatively titled Bad Mothers, on gender, caste, and modernism in 20th-century Indian literature.

Free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Department of Asian Societies, Cultures & Languages and the Bodas Family South Asia Programming Fund at Dartmouth College.

For more information, contact:
Preeti Singh

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.