Noted drag queen and LGBT activist Sushant Divgikar has just been included by Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia List – Class 2020. We spoke to Sushant about the same, his singing prowess (participated in singing reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa 2018 in his drag avtaar), and on the portrayal of gays in mainstream Indian entertainment. Excerpts:
How do you feel at being bestowed with this honor?
It has not yet sunk in. I would like to thank the Forbes Asia team for recognizing the 14years of my life that I have given to make the performing arts and arts, in general, more conducive for diverse participation and understanding of one’s true authentic self! I hope that my journey and body of work inspires every young and ambitious person out there to spread your wings and fly high!”
Why have we not seen you in mainstream cinema?
I don’t want to be part of films which only sell sex and commodify the fair sex (raunchy double meaning films song). It is quite sad that the same women who are willing participants in such trash then go on talking about women’s equality. Your prototype male hero has to beat people. All hell will break loose if he turns out to be gay.
Having gone through a lot of shit ourselves, we don’t want to be a part of such shameful stuff, Bollywood needs to grow up. Today youth is much more aware. I hope the web platforms accept this new norm and tailor-makes content for the millennials.
There is a very little realistic portrayal of gays in films?
I hope other makers could borrow a leaf from the book of Amazon Prime’s Made in Heaven, where the gay wedding planner character’s sexual orientation was not the only talking point of the narrative. I too want to be known as a versatile singer/dancer/drag queen. My being gay should not fetch me either brownie points or ridicule.
Also, it is not that I had not got work before the decriminalization of gay sex. I got my first TVC when I was sixteen. I was also a TV host for three years. India is less homophobic than other countries, say Russia or Pakistan.
The biggest problem is the lack of conversation. Society needs to smell the coffee and accept that gay sex is not against the order of nature.
Will your success encourage other gays to come out of the closet?
While I will do my bit, it is still very tough for gays to come out, for there are few very role models. Even a prominent filmmaker still refuses to go public.
How is your crooning career panning out?
Great guns. My next single will be out. The music industry is going through a golden period with independent singers again getting their due as would happen in the nineties. Indian music is much better than the rest in the world. I throw an open challenge to Marcelito, who had participated in America’s Got Talent: The Champions in 2019. My vocal range is double than him.
How would you want to help other drag artists?
I am involved with auditioning, mentoring, and training younger drag queens and aim to make drag a more accessible art form in the country.
You had been part of Bigg Boss, your take on the latest season?
I have been part of five reality shows, including the biggest show mentioned above. But sadly, all seem to sell the same template. Bigg Boss 13 was a massive hit for various reasons. I want the audience to share the blame for bad content. Consuming just about anything, with the result that some go on to believing that banging thalis can scare away Coronavirus.