Drag icon Sushant Divgikar on upcoming album Love Duet and celebrating love through music
From 1942 – A Love Story to Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, mainstream Hindi cinema has taken steps to go beyond the conventional norms of gender in storytelling and put the LGBTQIA+ community in the spotlight. And now, it is pop music's turn! Celebrating the second anniversary of the historic judgement that repealed Section 377, MTV Beats India is launching a gender-inclusive album of love songs featuring some of the community's most recognised names - including Mother of Electronica, Ma Faiza.
We got chatting with model and performer Sushant Divgikar on his experience of working on the album Love Duet and more. Excerpts:
What role do you think popular/mainstream culture plays in creating a more accepting society?
I think pop culture plays a big role in creating a more inclusive society. But having said that, should a creator always think about what people should take away from there content? I don't think so...that's putting too much pressure on the artist. However, if we, through our art have the opportunity to change people's perspective or at least present a new perspective, then we are making a conscious effort for change.
I think through my art and my journey I have realised, 'Yes if as a public figure, I am being put on a pedestal and I can affect public opinion then definitely I will put my content out there, which I will hope and pray will change people's perspective for the better.'
Tell us how you got involved in the album and your experiences recording for it.
The MTV Beats approached KittySu India, which is a pioneer when it comes to creating safe spaces for LGBT artistes and Queer performers. They got in touch with me and I was very excited because it is a great campaign. Some amazing artistes have collaborated on this album as well! Ma Faiza is someone I have looked up to for inspiration while growing up. I remember one of the first-ever concerts I went to was her gig in Mumbai. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
There are also names like Rushik Thakkar, who is a great singer and composer, and then the new artistes like Shubhangi and Prachi, who I got to interact with. It was a pleasure working on this album.
Also, this collaboration is a lot more special because for the first time, in the 14 years that I have been an entertainer, I have written the lyrics to my own song. Jash-e-Bahaar is completely out of my comfort zone and I enjoyed recording it. In fact, I couldn't believe that I was the one singing because if I may so say, I really sounded good. (laughs)
How would define the sound of Love Duet, given that the album features musicians from multiple genres?
The sound and the feel of the album is very eclectic. We have amalgamated different genres of music. There is a bit of pop, classic, folk, hip-hop. We have really mixed and matched and played around with genres on this album - after all music has no boundaries.
What's your favourite song?
That would have to be mine. (laughs) I am not one for modesty when it comes to appreciating myself. I think love begins with oneself and that is also something I have spoken about in my song. I think Jash-e-Bahaar is very easy on the ears and it has a great balance of Indian and Western influences when it comes to the instrumentation.
What are other projects you are working on?
Because of the pandemic, a lot of my live performances have been affected, and it is the case with so many other artistes. So many musicians and performers have had to go back to their hometowns and leave Mumbai - the city of dreams. I am working on a project that creates a conducive environment for art. I won't divulge too many details now, but it is on the line of collaborating with other artistes. And, not just collaborating, it'll be on the lines of grooming and self-care for trans women and men.
MTV Beats Love Duet releases in three parts. The first track Jashn-e-Bahaar drops on September 10.