Drag star Sushant Divgikar on his single, Diamond, and representation of LGBTQ+ artistes in India
Drag icon and former Mr Gay World India 2014, Sushant Divgikar, has now forayed into the world of music with his debut single Diamond. The artiste sings about breaking free of tags and labels in this self-love anthem. Sushant performs drag under the moniker Rani Ko-HE-Nur, and became the first drag artiste from India to ever feature on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia List. Excerpts from our interview with Sushant:
What made you decide to enter the world of music?
I always wanted to sing. But I started modelling and doing TV shows at a very early age, in my teens. One thing led to another and I could never take out time to seriously consider music. But all through my 14 years as an entertainer / artiste, I always wanted to do this and make music take centre stage in my life. I’m so glad that I have finally put out my own music and I’m going to continue doing so.
Who are some of your musical idols?
Growing up, I listened to all sorts of music from Hindi film music to Marathi folk music to Carnatic classical music to hard rock, jazz, hip hop, pop, western classical and many more genres.
I was most impressed with the vocal dexterity of Usha Uthup, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the stage with more than once. She has been very supportive of me right from the beginning.
I also really loved Freddie Mercury, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Asha Bhosle, Alka Yagnik, Shweta Shetty, Alisha Chinai and Kavita Krishnamurthy. I looked up for inspiration to all these wonderful artistes.
Tell us about the video Diamond.
Diamond is a product of this pandemic, which none of us expected. As the lyrics in the song suggest ‘It took me a long time, but I'm finally here'. We finally released the song and are now working on many more singles as well as albums as an independent artiste.
Diamond speaks of the fact that all of us, regardless of gender, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, colour, physical attributes, religious beliefs and other dimensions of a human, are all worth our while and that all of us have struggled to get where we are today. I have emphasised on the fact that we are quick to judge and label another person without really understanding their struggle to stand fierce and take on the world. The video features real people with real stories untagging the labels they’ve been given by others and loving and acknowledging their true authentic selves boldly and unapologetically.
It’s also in more ways than one my own story. A lot of people have called me a lot of things, but I have decided to ignore them and march towards my dreams and achieve my goals.
What do you feel about the portrayal and representation of LGBTQ+ artistes in Indian media?
Honestly, not enough is being done to show the LGBTQIA+ community in a positive light. For years and years we have abused, made fun of and ridiculed LGBTQIA characters on screen, in films, on television and in mainstream media. For years we have dismissed the queer community for its true worth. We are slowly (very slowly) making progress. It’s sad to see this because India is touted as one of the most diverse countries in the world and everyone internationally knows India for its culture, art and hospitality.
Why don’t we all be a little more human and more respectful to the LGBT+ community within our country too? We are as human as our heterosexual brothers and sisters. We breathe the same air and also want to be productive members of society. I believe it’s time to leave this regressive mindset behind and now that Section 377 is out of the way, let’s make our society more inclusive and respect everyone for who they are. Art has no boundaries, let’s not unnecessarily create these boundaries ourselves!
Watch the video for Diamond here: