Rhythm and Flow review: Of the highs and lows of being an artiste

Rhythm and Flow review:  Of the highs and lows of being an artiste

If Pitch Perfect, Step Up To The Street, and the Hindi film Gully Boy had taught us anything, it is, in the realm of rap, hip-hop, punk music, there’s a whole new creative, battle, that’s aggressive, aggressive and aggressive. If you can’t survive with quick-witted aggression, you either die of humiliation or live long enough to remember that as the most embarrassing memory. Unlike Murad in Gully Boy who had MC Sher to emotionally support his mission to become a rapper, these contestants only had misery as their company. Cardi B had her eyes glued to the television screen and imagined the worst of tasks she would be asked to perform. Unlike American Idol, Rhythm and Flow does not come with a huge set of promises of finding the next rapper and neither does it promise the winner hefty prize money. The exposure may be a good start, provided that you remain confident even when you are on stage because everyone in this realm of music is ready to brutally bring you down. You either win or you go downnnnnn (insert rap beats). Rhythm and Flow is not a feature-based series, but we can’t call it a documentary either. So let’s just call it a shot-by-shot collection of the harshest realities of life that builds a hip-hop star, and how that gets reflected in their music. That doesn’t mean that if you are a fan of Beethoven, Mozart, you wouldn’t enjoy the series. In a western classical musical concert, the competition is classy and the level of harshness depends on the harshness of the smile. Not every smile is a pleasant exchange of greetings. In a rap battle, there’s no smiling, there’s upfront brutal honesty if you can’t keep up with the beats. “Originally, we were going to take it to one of the big networks, and we did find a home for it there. But the big networks, no offence, could never capture that environment,” said Mike Jackson, a producer on Rhythm and Flow. Every ‘dard bhari kahaani’ ( sob stories) of the contestant, which we witness on American Idol, Indian Idol is staged. It’s not real if a camera person is instructing you to act as if you are practising, walk as if you are lost, and sing as if you are aspiring to win. But Rhythm and Flow captures the moment without any direction. It’s difficult to comment on the directorial style of Rhythm and Flow as they do not come with a set of instructions, like in a feature film, or even in a documentary which is based on a dead person. The cast isn't told what to do, though they are aware of the presence of the camera. While some remain shy, others remain cool while being filmed. It remains evident that the makers of the show had the hardest time trying to figure out how to stream a show that wouldn’t give away all the answers if the viewer just decided to watch the last show of the semi-docu series. The solution was to package 10 episodes but release only five of the first. The next set of shows will release after a while, where the contestants will be selected and rejected. Rhythm and Flow does not teach you how to be famous, rather will offer you a glimpse of how to handle fame and humiliation simultaneously. Regardless of whether one aspires to become a rapper (or not), this show may be the best dosage when you are out of words and flabbergasted during times of humiliation. Netflix’s show isn’t a first one of its kind either. We have witnessed Roadies, following which, American and Indian televisions have given us some of the meanest game shows, with a star-studded guest appearance. The unicity remains, that when we think of music, we do not expect brutality, do we? That’s mainly because when we put ‘artistes’ on a pedestal. We forget that they are capable of aggression, depending on their experience. On a very different note, some of us are eagerly waiting for the remaining episodes.

Rating: 4/5


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