Sushant Divgikar has reasons to be happy these days. Only the other week, he became India’s first drag artiste to feature on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia List, for Class 2020.
However, the journey has not been easy for the model, actor, singer cum video-jockey, who has represented India at Mr. Gay World (2014). Despite achieving so much at just 29, Sushant, who is also popularly called Rani Ko-He-Nur, has had his bouts of emotional troubles, public abuse, insults, rejection and even death threats.
All these could not affect Sushant, who says that hatred only enhanced his courage and determination.
Talking about the same, Sushant Divgikar shared: “I have gone through a lot in these 14 years. From being emotionally troubled to being insulted on set, to being asked to leave an audition even before I gave my look test, to not getting booked for a gig or a job because I’m gay. There have been people who have even given me death threats and have gone to the extent of abusing my parents and family publicly.”
“But never has all this hate affected my work because it has only made me stronger and tougher. And as my mother says, the dogs will keep barking! The queen has to keep walking without looking down or tilting her head because if she does, her crown will slip fall,” he added.
As a child, Sushant was fascinated with cosmetics and makeup. He got attracted to doing makeup and dressing up even before he knew the term “drag”. He shared: “I’ve always been fascinated with makeup and fabulous costumes and accessories. Since I was a kid I liked to dress up but I never knew what drag was back then. As I grew older, I read about it and very closely observed other drag artists from around the world mastering the art and in the back of my head, I knew this is what I wanted to do!”
How did he become Rani Ko-He-Nur? Sharing about his journey, Sushant expressed: “Mr. Keshav Suri, Executive Director of the Lalit hospitality group invited me to perform in 2017 at his Nightclub franchise KittySu, New Delhi along with world-renowned drag queen, Violet Chachki. After this performance, the audience and especially Mr. Suri loved my performance and decided that I should take up drag as performance art, professionally and therefore, Rani Ko-He-Nur was born. The rest is history or should we say ‘her’ story.”
He added: “I have been fortunate to travel the world because of Rani. From Chandigarh to Bengaluru to Kolkata to Jaisalmer to London to Stockholm to even Dhaka in Bangladesh. Rani has performed all over the world and it is my dream that I’m able to perform in every country and as many cities around the world as I can.”
Despite all kinds of obstacles, love and support of his family has kept Sushant going. The LGBTQ activist and drag queen performer expressed: “My family has always been very supportive of whatever I do. I come from an extremely forward-thinking and broad-minded family. They don’t discriminate based on gender, religion, caste or creed. I think every family should be like mine.”
Up-next, Sushant is planning to release his singles. He revealed: “I’m planning to release my singles. I might accumulate the tracks into an album but I’m definitely releasing my singles. I will be singing in both tenor and soprano to showcase my unique vocal capabilities.”
Rani Ko-He-Nur concluded with a message for budding drag artistes. “I would just like to tell anyone who wants to take drag professionally, do what you do best! Don’t try and imitate someone else. Your uniqueness will shine through!”