Sushant Divgikar in his drag avatar, Rani Ko-He-Noor.
Sushant Divgikar in his drag avatar, Rani Ko-He-Noor.

Drag is part of our culture; to refute it is to refute history: Sushant Divgikar

VJ, singer, and Mr Gay India 2014, Sushant Divgikar talks about his experience as a drag queen and why society needs to evolve when it comes to accepting different sexualities and identities.
Hindustan Times | By Etti Bali, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 29, 2017 01:14 PM IST

VJ, model, reality show participant, actor, singer, and now drag queen—Sushant Divgikar dons many hats. The 27-year-old, hailing from Mumbai, debuted as a drag queen in Delhi in September. Ahead of his show in the Capital tonight, we get him talking about being a drag queen.

“It was (hotelier) Keshav Suri, who encouraged me to do drag. My drag avatar is called Rani Ko-He-Noor. I want to say that every woman, every drag artist out there is a queen,” he says. Drag, Sushant feels, has always been part our culture, and people refuting it are refuting history. “People don’t realise that drag is very much part of our culture. Our folk dances have men performing as women. The courts of emperors used to have royal eunuchs. This country does not want to talk about its rich culture. We have to celebrate our diversity,” he says.

The journey couldn’t have been easy, but Sushant says his honesty to himself has got him where he is, today. “I did face some challenges, given my orientation. I have done TV shows where people have not been friendly. But there are also those who don’t give a damn as long as the work is getting done. I was lucky to have these people supporting me,” he says.

Sushant can sing in both male and female voices.
Sushant can sing in both male and female voices.

Sushant, who started out with ads, progressed to TV shows, and gradually ventured into singing, says, “I took up singing recently, and music producers tell me I have a beautiful voice. But then they comment on my orientation, which doesn’t make sense. As a music producer, what should be important is my voice, not who I am. People have refused to collaborate with me due to this. I can sing in both male and female voices, but they don’t see the USP here. They feel it will confuse listeners. In this regard, regional producers are far more progressive.”

When in his drag avatar, he sings and entertains audiences in what he calls an “exchange of energy”. Performing drag is performing an entire entertainment package, with an elaborate opening act and a troupe of supporting artists. “The place where I perform in Delhi is an inclusive bar. People perform there because they know they will not be judged. I had straight people opening my act. The audience, too, is an eclectic mix. The vibe here is completely different — it’s like performing in Vegas. The Delhi crowd is very accepting,” he says.

Since his debut as a drag queen, Sushant has performed at a number of shows, revealing a growing acceptance among society. “We are doing a drag tour of India, soon. If actors and musicians can do tours, why can’t we? This tour will cover five cities and is the first of its kind,” he says.

With Rani Ko-He-Noor, Sushant seems to have come into his own. “Initially, I used to be apologetic, even if just for my looks. After coming into this drag avatar, I have shed all inhibitions. I realised that this also is me. All you need to do is be honest to yourself and own your identity. You should never be ashamed of yourself,” he signs off.

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