SlowCheeta is set for big leaps: Meet Chaitnya Sharma
SlowCheeta is set for big leaps: Meet Chaitnya Sharma

Chaitnya Sharma aka SlowCheeta, who is all set to drop his next EP, Scene Main Bawaal on April 25 after having wowed all with his acting chops in Maidaan, talks  about acting, music, football, and other loves

SlowCheeta is running fast! He has just dropped the artwork and tracklist for his next EP Scene Main Bawaal, slated to release on April 25th. This, after a magnificent outing as an actor in Maidaan. “I am hungry, I need to eat, I am in predator mode, so I need to be slow,” quips the  Maidaan’s breakout star , Chaitnya Sharma aka SlowCheeta. While the name might be contradictory and oxymoronic (according to him), Sharma’s career isn’t so. After making a brief appearance in a battle rap scene in Gully Boy, Sharma was recently seen playing the role of legendary footballer PK Banerjee in the acclaimed movie, Maidaan. While the actor and rapper refuses to choose one distinction over the other, he opened up about his passions. Excerpts: 

SlowCheeta Man's World HR.jpg 


What was the biggest challenge you faced while playing PK Banerjee in Maidaan?  

Chaitnya Sharma: Literally and figuratively stepping into his shoes. Stepping into his shoes was a big responsibility. It was also literally the toughest thing stepping into his shoes because the shoes we wore for the shoot were just impossible to play with. They were leather boots that fit badly, the studs were placed inside with nails that would sometimes fall off. In the summers, the leather would get really hot, and also because of the sweat, it would get all wet. They were also extremely heavy. What was your relationship with football prior to the movie? My honeymoon [he is married to actor Shweta Tripathi] ended in Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United. Football has been my first official love since childhood; I'm a Manchester United supporter through and through. I love playing and watching football, something I've done all my life. However, I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't know much about the history of Indian football, and it shamed me that I was supporting a club halfway across England while knowing so little about the golden era of our country’s football culture. But as I began researching for my character, it became a deep dive into the team, the players, and that particular era. I'm still discovering more.


An actor or a musician… if you had to pick one?

CS: I am an artiste who loves expressing; the medium doesn’t matter to me. I cherish acting as much as I do rapping and recording. It’s impossible to choose, but I recently wrote a song called Chai Biskoot that addresses this question. In one of the parts, it says - “Log Mere se poochte rehte hain bhai tu rapper hai ya actor hai? Main bola main tractor hai, raaste main jo aayega kuchal doonga. Moo pe jo aaye ugal doonga. Sultanat bana raha is game ko shayad pichle janam main. Mughal hounga. Main ye bhi hai aur woh bhi hain.


What's a myth about the Mumbai rap scene that you want to break?

CS: There’s this sense that it has to be “bohot hard” and gangster. While that is definitely part of the culture, rapping is also about so much more than that. There are so many rappers in Mumbai writing poetry with complex lyricism, and metaphors, which people are not necessarily picking up on. The skill lies there, the depth resides there. So, I'd say pay as much attention to poetry as you would to the gangster side of rap.


Three words that define you?

CS: We. Got. This. Every day when I wake up, I tell myself “We got this,” and when I say “we,” I mean me and myself, but also everyone else around me and everyone I meet. I strongly believe in the concept of community. I think we’re all one, just divided into different bodies. I think when we’re together, we can achieve anything, but when we’re alone, life can be tough.


Three words that define love?

CS: I did a song with Amit Trivedi, where the lyrics go like “mera mazhab mohabbat”. I feel love is the only religion. When we find that, we’ll find everything: God, heaven, everything that we imagine we’ll receive post-death, we’ll find that when we’re alive.


Your idea of a perfect date?

CS: It should be unplanned and very in the moment, and obviously with my wife. I was on my honeymoon with Shwets and we went to Capri to watch the Blue Caves, which are at the foot of the mountains where the water turns neon blue because of the rocks beneath the surface. We were supposed to go boarding there. But when we arrived, it was raining for two days, the tides were high, and the caves were closed. We were bummed. But then we met this random Italian at a coffee shop, who showed us a rather interesting secret way where Shweta and I had to dive in the middle of the sea from a hidden spot, not many people knew about. We left our passports, wallets, and everything on the rocks and dove in, swimming underwater and emerging on the other side of the cave. It was unbelievable because it was just her and me; usually, there were hundreds of people, and the water shone neon blue in colour. We swam there, found a rock, took a break, and watched as the caves closed when the water started hitting the roof. So, we dived underwater and came out. It was beautiful.


The most precious possession in your wardrobe?

CS: There’s this little rod from where my clothes hang, above which is the roof of the cupboard. In that space, there are some very cute pictures of Shweta from her childhood, there are some cards that my goddaughter gave me on my birthday, and there’s also a cheque I wrote to myself three years ago with a big, big number, which I am hoping to cash out one day.


The most precious possession in your shoe closet?

CS: The Nike Dunk Low Cheetahs, because of the name obviously.


Three things that nobody knows about you?

CS: A) I love food. I was very unhealthy growing up, a short, oversized kid who wanted to be an actor and wanted to have Hrithik Roshan’s body but was far from it. B) I have a huge sweet tooth. In fact, I have a song where the lyrics go like “sabar ka fal meetha so I have a sweet tooth.” C) Another thing is I had to be at 8 or 9 per cent body fat for three years because we shot for Maidaan for three years. It is impossible to sustain for three years, but here we are.


The most useless talent you have?

CS: I can make a sound like the Alien from the movie ‘Signs’ from 2002 (proceeds to make the sound)


The most bizarre thing you have read or heard about yourself?

CS: Usually, my spelling, because no one gets it right. They spell Cheetah with an ‘H’, also they spell Chaitnya with an ‘A’ after the ‘T’, and that’s also incorrect. The other thing I read about is, “What makes your Cheeta slow?” I love that question.


So... what makes this Cheeta slow?  

CS: My name is essentially an oxymoron. I always wanted it to be some sort of figure of speech because rapping involves language as its main hero. There are many reasons why I chose it, one of them being this myth which was back in the day that insinuated that rapping means talking fast. But that’s not true. If you look at rappers like Notorious BIG or Snoop Dogg, you’ll notice how they really sit on the beat, rap slowly, and my style is similar. That was the big reason. Also, a slow cheetah is slowest before it jumps on a prey and then hits full speed. This is a hint that I am on the hunt so beware; you should always be worried about a slow cheetah. It is also an analogy on how I’ll walk in my own lane, with my own pace, and will still be ahead of the curve. Also, my favorite band ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers’ have a song called “Slow Cheetah.” But the main reason I wanted it to be part of my rap name is that my mother used to call me a cheetah. Mera ek bhai hain unko Sheeru bulate the, toh woh sher tha aur main cheetah. My brother has let go of his name though. What makes it “slow” cheetah is that I am hungry, I am in predator mode, so I need to be slow. Because I am about to take off and get that prey.


The biggest life lesson from a movie quote:  

CS: “Life is Beautiful” from an Italian movie called La Vita è Bella (1997), I also have it tattooed on my arm. If you watch the film, you understand how incredible it is to be happy and what a superpower it is to do that, and also you’ll realise it’s a choice you make. Happiness is not an outcome but a choice; that was a very important lesson for a 15-year-old me, and I will always keep it close to my heart..


Who are some of your favourite contemporary hip-hop artists and why?

CS: There’s so many, but Divine tops that list. He’s paved the way, he’s also stayed true to the art and not sold out, he’s operating at a high level of skill and business. He knows how to make a good song and also position himself. Big respect for Vivian. I also love Pakistani artists like Young Stunners and Abdul Hannan. In India, there are Seedhe Maut, Rebel 7, YASHRAJ, HanuMankind, and many other artistes that are making some great music.


Your go-to activity to ensure optimum mental health?

CS: Workout is at the top of the list; I do it more to help me sleep instead of for aesthetic purposes. It just clears my head. There’s also this breathing technique called Wim Hof breathing, which clears my head and my gut. And writing music, I think in fact everything I do at work is to keep me sane and in a happy place. There’s no meditation, no workout that tops that feeling.  



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