Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur
Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur

Pride Month: Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur on acting, music, & experience of being a drag artiste in India

We close the Pride Month with a fabulous exclusive cover shoot with Rani KoHEnur, whose musical single Pehchaan just released

Since she won Mr Gay India in 2014, a lot has changed in Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur’s life. “There have been more opportunities, more sensitisation, and more information. Compared to earlier, people are now more aware of the community. It was a challenging time when I came out. I used to be the only openly queer person in the public domain. Today you see so many faces, so many people trying to make an honest living by working hard,” says Rani as she sits for a long chat about her latest projects with us. As it’s curtains down on Pride Month, Rani took time from her busy schedule to shoot an exclusive glam drag look for Indulge. Excerpts:

Q

With perceptions about the LGBTQIA++ community changing positively globally, how much inclusivity do you feel personally?

A

Many people understand the importance of inclusion now and are working towards it. I would be lying if I said we are living in a very ideal world, because we are not. A lot of people want to be inclusive, but don’t know how to. They are scared and sometimes afraid of what they don’t know. People don’t talk about my community as openly as they speak about the heterosexual majority. While sensitisation, education, and information dissemination have increased compared to 10 years ago, we still have a long way to go.

Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur
Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur
Q

In which aspects do we still lack sensitivity?

A

We lack sensitivity when we ignore the fact that we are as human as cisgender, heterosexual men and women. The sensitivity is lacking because our experiences are not seen as human experiences; they are considered sub-human and less important. Not enough attention is paid to the rights of my community, including policymaking. We need to be more sensitive, especially regarding mental health, physical health, and education.

Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur
Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur
Q

What relevance does Pride Month hold for you?

A

Pride Month is a celebration of those who came before us. I celebrate these people and am proud to be part of a community for which others have fought. You have to be continuously proud of your journey, your people, and your community. Complaining is one thing, but actively contributing is another. If you want your community to progress, you have to join the movement and add glory to it.

Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur
Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur
Q

Personally, how fulfilling has your journey been so far?

A

My journey has been ground-breaking, ful - filling, empowering, and revealing. However, certain challenges persist. Even today, despite working on myself for the past 18 years as an entertainer and artiste, I am still not paid as much as my male and female counterparts. I am questioned based on my gender and not evaluated on my art or performance.

Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur
Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur
Q

Your experience as a drag artiste in India so far?

A

It has been phenomenal. I don’t view drag as a Western concept. Indians, whether our kings, queens, performers in royal palaces, or gods and goddesses in Hindu mythology, have celebrated maximalism and drag. While the term “drag” comes from the West, performance art itself — singing, music, dance, poetry, recitation, elocution, and spoken word — has deep roots in Indian history. I am more inclined towards exploring and celebrating my roots and incor - porating them into my performances.

Q

You have a rich voice and the exceptional talent to sing in both male and female voices. How has singing as a career treated you so far?

A

I have met some of the most wonderful, iconic, and legendary people in the Indian music indus - try. However, I wish I had received many more singing opportunities in various languages, as I can speak and sing in many languages. I still hope that Ajay-Atul, AR Rahman, and other music legends, give me opportunities to work with them.

Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur
Sushant Divgikar aka Rani KoHEnur
Q

Tell us about your latest single, Pehchaan

A

My new song, Pehchaan, speaks about the dual - ity within one person. There are so many more aspects and layers to human beings. However, there are always at least two sides to a person, and I feel both must balance each other, like Yin and Yang

A lot of us have to go through a long journey to find ourselves — some of us find ourselves much sooner, while others do after much tur - moil. But once you do find yourself, you are invincible and so powerful that you become your hero, and the song beautifully shows this aspect.

Q

What’s your current playlist?

A

It includes a mix — from Bhojpuri to Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa, Adele, Beyoncé, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Lata Mangeshkar, and Asha Bhosle.

Q

Fashion is a huge part of who you are. What’s your fashion like?

A

My fashion is eclectic. I love saris, short skirts, minis, bodysuits, bras, and bralettes. I love my Indian pieces and dupattas. For occasions, I love saris, lehengas, and lehenga cholis. I also adore couture gowns by designers like Gaurav Gupta and Amit Aggarwal. Comfort wear at home includes oversized t-shirts and shorts or track pants and hoodies. I love Indian silk, organza, satin, velvet, and khadi fabrics.

Q

Five essentials in your wardrobe?

A

Undergarments, saris and blouses, Punjabi suits with starched or flowy dupattas, and track pants with a hoodie.

Q

A particular outfit you hold close to your heart and will never part with?

A

It’s a Sabyasachi lehenga and choli that the designer made for me. It includes parts of Priyanka Chopra’s wedding red outfit.

Q

Not many know that you were a part of a series back in 2017, which also marked Zeenat Aman’s debut in the web space. How was your experi - ence working with her?

A

She is the best co-star you could ask for and the sweetest because she used to share her dabba with me. She would bring this lovely jasmine rice and pulao and feed me. She would ask, “Have you eaten, my darling?” in her dulcet tone.

Q

When will we see you acting again?

A

My web series, called 36 Days, is releasing this July on SonyLiv. I’ll be acting, singing, danc - ing, doing fight scenes, and romantic scenes.

Q

Where do you see yourself in the next decade?

A

I don’t know! A decade ago, when I won Mr Gay India, I envisioned a different future for myself, and things turned out differently. So, I’m going to pass on predicting the next decade. Tomorrow is never promised, right?

Q

Your upcoming projects?

A

Apart from 36 Days, I have a special appear - ance in a famous Netflix series in India. Also, I plan to do a lot of work with my organisation, YANA (You Are Not Alone), for the betterment of transgender people, especially abandoned transgender children.

Pictures by Debarshi Sarkar

X
Indulgexpress
www.indulgexpress.com