Spitfire’s ‘Vartalaap’ finds new audience with the hearing impaired

By Bandook - October 7, 2019

Nitin Mishra aka Spitfire recently dropped his EP, Paathshaala via Ranveer Singh and Navzar Eranne’s music label IncInk. And as a guest performer on the hip-hop based reality show MTV Hustle, Spitfire extended the reach of his music to the hearing-impaired, by performing Vartalap (a single from the Paathshaala EP) alongside Indian Sign Language (ISL) interpreter Shabina Mohammed Choudhary.

Spitfire’s ‘Vartalaap’ finds new audience with the hearing impaired

Spitfire, best known for being the writer and composer of the hit song Asli Hip Hop from Bollywood film Gully Boy), had this to say about the collaboration, “Hip-hop music is for everyone… and the soul of rap music lies in its poetry. Vartalap, is my favourite from the songs I’ve written so far. I want my my poetry to go places and I think that sign language interpretation is another unique way to reach out to more and more people. I thank Shabina for helping me spread my message.”

Ranveer Singh says of IncInk’s association with the show, “Music is a HUGE part of my life. Because Navzar and I are so enthusiastic about music, we decided to start an independent label as our passion project. We seldom realise the little things we take for granted. I can’t imagine my life without songs, and there are so many people who don’t have the option to experience music at all! We have attempted to change that.”

He adds, “If we make the slightest effort to translate our art in a way so those who cannot hear can somehow still consume it; even if they can’t hear our songs, but can in this manner see what we are trying to say with our music and maybe enjoy it, that’s all we want. Every single thing we do at IncInk is all heart. What we did with Spitfire and Shabina’s performance of Vartalap, was one of them.”

IncInk (a portmanteau of ‘inclusive’ and ‘ink) features rappers Kaam Bhaari, Spitfire and SlowCheeta on its roster and all three were asked to perform on MTV Hustle.

Shabina, the sign language interpreter, was emotional through the process as she comes from a family of four hearing-impaired siblings. Experiencing firsthand the difficulties they faced while getting an education, she decided to formally train herself and professionally become a sign language interpreter. She started AJ Tutorials to use her educational knowledge and teach hearing impaired students English and higher education, for free. Throughout the course of her life though, she had never been asked to translate a song.

“This was the very first time I had to translate a song, that too a rap song. Spitfire’s lyrics are written with a very deep meaning. Though it was a challenge to understand the depth of what he was saying in his poetry and find an easy way to translate it, with the guidance of experienced sign language trainer Mr. Sunil Sahasrabudhe, who himself is deaf, I tried my level best to translate the song to the community so they receive it as deeply as I did when I heard it,” she said.

Sunil Sahasrabudhe, Vice President of the Indian Sign Language Interpreter’s Association coached Shabina throughout the performance. He says, “Being inclusive means being accessible in every way. By including Indian Sign Language interpretation for songs, IncInk has proven to be truly inclusive. Signing (not singing) the rap song in sign language is very, very challenging and this is the first time in India I have seen it on a big platform like MTV Hustle.”

Calling it a historic moment, he said, “Being in the audience watching Shabina perform Vartalap, was an experience never to be forgotten. Our community in India is often used to seeing songs interpreted in American Sign Language by American interpreters. They will be delighted to see an interpretation of a rap song in Indian Sign Language on such a big platform. Congratulations to IncInk for believing in and executing something the hearing-impaired community has always desired – accessible music!”


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