Dharavi Project Is A Beacon of Hope For Under-Resourced Talents, Says Dolly Rateshwar

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In the recent years, the country has seen the underground hip-hop movement rise from the gullies. Dharavi slums are well known for the hip-hop artists it churns out. The credit can be given to the head of The Dharavi Dream Project – Dolly Rateshwar. The initiative was brought into being to establish hip-hop as a medium for social change and self expression. With over 80 students in the school, the Dharavi Project aims to teach the underprivileged children from the slums the four different elements of hip-hop –  beatboxing, rapping, graffiti and b-boying.

Dolly also has over eight years of work experience at MNCs like Google, LinkedIn and MySpace. She also was one of the first team members at Qyuki – a media startup by Shekhar Kapur, AR Rahman and Samir Bangara. She is also, a Co-founder at Tesseract Imaging – a spin-off from MIT Media Lab India Initiative.

While she was always working towards giving back to the community in the form of teaching students on the street since she was in college, she has finally focused her career on delivering social impact through “The Dharavi Dream Project’s #AfterSchoolofHiphop”.

We caught up with Dolly Rateshwar after her panel – Creating Global Impact With Music – to talk about her perspectives on music and the Dharavi Project.

L to R – Ricky Kej, Mae Thomas, Sonam Kalra, Dolly Rateshwar
  1. What was your take away from Music Inc 2.0?
    • Music Inc has hundreds of people attending the conference and they are there because they have a professional interest in music. Contacting online and attempting to nurture working relationships can be a much trickier prospect than meeting in person – nothing quite beats face to face meets, and this is where Music Inc conference can be nothing short of invaluable. It brings access to a huge network of peers, a deep well knowledgeable contacts within the industry. Panels, talks, workshops, and live performances focus on everything from music trends to technology to Q & A to Tech showcases and each one is surrounded by a legion of industry professionals – the chances to expand your network, gain knowledge and form new business partnerships are unrivaled. “It’s not so much what you know, but who you know”
  2. What do you think is the state and scope of music in the present scenario in India?
    • Music with its instantaneous pleasing effect can be an answer to almost everything. It is a form of art that is easily accessible anytime and anywhere.  Our country has recently surpassed the U.S as the world’s 2nd largest smartphone market which is estimated to grow by leaps and bounds by 2020. This definitely calls for our active audience consuming music content on a daily basis. 3 of India’s largest streaming platforms Jio Music, Wynk, Gaana to name a few being domestic players are definitely making music more accessible around the country. Talking about accessibility to Intl music- with the recent advent of global players like Spotify and YouTube Music, personalization and localization seems to be the growth drivers now. Lastly, not only from a content consumption perspective, but music has also opened doors from a career perspective.
  3. How do you think different industries/government can contribute to the music culture?
    • The Indian music industry has a rich musical tradition and is capable of generating sizeable revenue for the country in every genre of the music industry. There are loopholes in the industry due to the unabated growth of piracy. More actionable laws to be in place to avoid unethical habits being formed. Secondly, music should be made compulsory in academics unlike considering it as a hobby or a niche artform.
  4. How do you think live music can be integrated into different sections of the industry? 
    • The music of India includes varieties of genres like Punjabi music, classical music, folk music, Indie music, Indian rock, Indian pop, Indian Hip-hop. India’s classical music tradition has a history spanning millennia and developed over several areas. Music in India began as an integral part of socio-religious life. Revenue generation for the Artists and streaming services are relatively very low as compared to the consumption of music on apps, some relief by govt on the pricing will be of great help. The current Bollywood-centric market in India prioritizes hit songs and box-offices sales over artist development, and meaningful change will have to come as much from inside these dominant structures as from outside. There a small number of companies dedicated to fostering more organic relationships across country lines. The government should play an active role to ease off intl collaboration between different genres and artists.
  5. What direction do you think the music industry is heading in, in the future? 
    • The Indian music industry is leading its way to becoming one of the top-10 music markets in the coming years. It’s a long process depending on the economy of the country but India is also leading on the innovation path and government is supporting initiatives of the young minds to bring India on the global map as far as music is concerned.
  6. How do you think music can be used as a medium to bring about change? 
    • Local underground communities are beginning to establish themselves on the world stage: Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi are thriving cities for rock, jazz, hip-hop scenes. India producers like Nucleya are brought into the limelight. for most In India, however, music culture remains inseparable from film culture. However, there are artists like Ricky Kej, Sonam Kalra, Raftaar and the likes who are making music to spread the social message. Such work will be necessary as a growing number of intl music companies look to India as their next frontier.
  7. How do you think The Dharavi Dream Project is helping its students find a platform and an outlet in a genre like hip-hop?
    • Our primary focus groups are the under-resourced talent in the genre of Hip-hop who lack basic resources to work on their craft. As basic as providing a space to practice, recording facilities, production support, marketing assistance, IP rights, education.
    • TheDharaviDreamProject is a beacon of hope for such under-resourced talents in the nook and corners of the city as we have created a platform to provide such facilities to them –
      • to help create and sustain an environment in which the under-resourced talent maybe encouraged and educated
      • to help and expand opportunities for the under-resourced talent to have their works performed
      • to encourage an environment in which the common man has a better understanding of the value of music and its importance to the cultural and economic life of our society.
      • to identify, nurture, mentor and showcase real talent from the under-served areas
      • to empower young talent not only in the Dharavi of Mumbai but Dharavi’s of the world
      • for every kid in Dharavi to have free and easy access to the “#Afterschoolofhip-hop” to share one’s thoughts and expressions through music, dance and art form
      • to provide a medium to help them express social and political issues that are prevailing in and around their community day in and day out that affect them not only mentally but also emotionally.
    • We are in the process of setting up a recording studio in the school so that our talent will have a free hand to record their thoughts and convert that into content.


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