Zoya Akhtar On How A Javed Akhtar And Divine Collaboration Led To ‘Apna Time Aayega’

The Gully Boy director on how her father started getting into the world of Indian rap on YouTube and what the song's name was before he tweaked it
Zoya Akhtar On How A Javed Akhtar And Divine Collaboration Led To ‘Apna Time Aayega’

"Apna Time Aayega", the hard-hitting rap in which Ranveer Singh's character aspires to a better life, is one of Gully Boy's most popular songs, amassing 41 million views on YouTube. Director Zoya Akhtar spoke about how her father, poet Javed Akhtar, and rapper Divine each lent their unique skills to the song.

Edited excerpts:

Anupama Chopra: For me, what's incredible is the fact that Javed (Akhtar) saab, who's a sixth or seventh generation poet, who traces his ancestry back to a contemporary of Mirza Ghalib, is writing alongside Divine. This is amazing.

Zoya Akhtar: But he's cool like that, you know what I mean?

AC: How did you get him into it?

ZA: He's written all the poetry in the film. And Murad (played by Ranveer Singh) is a poet in the film. This one poem starts off as a poem and then becomes a song. It starts off as something very pure and it's the inspiration to what then became "Doori". So obviously the poem is completely his and then the track, half. And then Divine took it and tweaked it, in the sense of making the lingo more his, breaking it up. Because you needed that to be real.

AC: How hard was it for him to get into this world?

ZA: When I spoke to him about it, he actually started watching them on YouTube, started telling me, "This one's a better writer than that one. This one's got a bigger vocabulary than that one. That one's vocabulary is not so big." So he was into that, listening to this, listening to that. Divine had written "Apna Time Aayega" and it was written as "Sabka Time Aayega" and my dad read it and he said, "Sabka change kardo. Make it apna. Because apna is what you own. Apna is more personal. Apna will make you feel something." And we did change that and I think it was very smart. It's interesting for him. They're all kids.

AC: What was it like to watch them interacting?

ZA: They met once, they chatted about it ("Doori") once. After that, he (Divine) wrote it and then he (Javed Akhtar) wrote it. It was separate. They had one meeting and I think Divine was a little nervous. It was sweet.

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