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Art for art's sake: On India's burgeoning drag culture

Sushant Divgikar speaks to The New Indian Express about breaking the stigma that envelopes drag culture in the country and the city.  

Published: 08th November 2021 10:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th November 2021 10:17 AM   |  A+A-

Sushant Divgikar

Sushant Divgikar

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Sushant Divgikar is a person of multiple talents and roles. A model, actor, singer, psychologist, motivational speaker, pageant director, video jockey and drag queen in the avatar of 'RANI Ko-HE-Nur', he speaks to The New Indian Express about breaking the stigma that envelopes drag culture in the country and the city.  

RANI Ko-HE-Nur is full of grace, believes in diversity, defies discrimination and sings like a bird at moments to spread charm. "I don't understand why people have an indifferent attitude towards drag culture in the country. For aeons, men have donned the roles of women and performed before audiences as actors, folk artistes, classical dancers and even goddesses," says the Queen.

"Men dressing and acting like women is deeply rooted in our culture, but we never called it drag. I thank the West for naming and mainstreaming it as this gives the artistes respect. Now it's a multidisciplinary art form," they say. What upsets the Queen is that the people have stopped celebrating the country's culture. 

"The notion that only queer people do drag is killing the art. Anybody can perform this artform regardless of their gender and identity. The sole purpose of the art is to meet the other side of one's personality, which we all have. Every performing artiste wears makeup to look a certain way. It's part of the performance value. For instance, tawaifs were given a special place in a king's courts and were seen as artistes. They were talented singers and dancers, but today we know them as sex workers or transgenders," they say. Divgikar has been struggling to normalise drag art.

"No artiste intends to hurt age-old sentiments. We simply want to celebrate harmony and appreciate diversity. We don’t believe in dividing societies," they say. Divgikar's claim to fame is when he was crowned Mr Gay India in 2014 and entered Bigg Boss season 8 as a contestant.

Struggling to normalise drag art

Sushant Divgikar, who was crowned Mr Gay India in 2014 and entered Bigg Boss season 8 as a contestant, has been struggling to normalise drag art. He has been helping the artistes and children of the community lead a respectable life, apart from urging the general public to embrace their talent.



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