Women’s day is the day we dedicate to celebrating women. However, unless shown a different side, we end up preaching the same heteronormative ideas of femininity on this day. Which kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
We decided to do things the right way. We spent our Women’s day morning speaking to Gazal Dhaliwal and Bidisha Mohanta. Both fiercely female, unapologetically themselves and a constant source of inspiration to all of us.
What does the term ‘womanhood’ mean to Bidisha Mohanta?
‘Womanhood’ to me is the embodiment of compassion, kindness and generosity. At every important step of my life I’ve been embraced and uplifted by strong women who’ve trusted in my potential to grow as an artist and as an individual. Watching them succeed in their own fields overcoming the kind of obstacles they have, has inspired me to fearlessly fight for what I believe is right and lend a voice to the ones less fortunate than I am. For this reason I can’t help but love and worship them.
Introduce us to Badshah Mayur and your drag philosophy.
Badshah Mayur is a young king passionate about singing, dancing and setting the stage on fire. As we all know ‘Badshah’ means emperor and hence it was an easy choice to make for a first name. ‘Mayur’ on the other hand comes from the fact that my nickname in Bengali is ‘Keka’ which refers to the call of a peacock. Hence the name ‘Badshah Mayur’.
This persona is me embracing my masculinity by bending archaic Indian-informed gender norms. It’s all about breaking free from the gender stereotypes and blurring lines that exist in this society where girls are taught to be a certain way and guys another.
I want to push my own boundaries as a drag king so I am able to strike a dialogue regarding the same and make it more interactive so that the audience can join in on the fun! women’s day
Did you have any apprehensions about going to IGT? How did your experience on the reality show compare to your expectations?
Yes 100%, I did. I went to audition for another popular singing reality tv show before that. I travelled all the way back from Singapore where I had gone to attend college, to take part in it. However I was rejected in my first round. Mind you, this was before sec 377 was decriminalised. That had made me very apprehensive about trying my luck out in IGT but I knew I had what it takes to win people over with my voice. women’s day
I was right about it. The judges absolutely loved my performances. This of course happened after the historic judgement was passed by the SC decriminalising sec 377 of the IPC. I came out on national television which was met with unexpected amount of love, support and positive response. The little negativity I did receive left me undeterred. People form all over India, even small towns I had never heard the names of, sent me messages saying they could relate to me and that my voice had touched their hearts deeply. I couldn’t have asked for more.
“Bidisha Mohanta girlfriend” is the top search on google starting with your name, how do you feel about this interest in your personal life and all the spotlight on your immense talent?
I understand the curiosity but I am very protective of my personal life. Especially in a country like India where people are just starting to come to terms with homosexuality I wouldn’t want my partner to be thrust into the spotlight unless she/they are absolutely comfortable with it.
However that is, if I have a partner. I recently broke up with my girlfriend of 3 years. It was a wonderful relationship that taught both of us a lot about life. The hardships that we’ve been through together in navigating a long-distance, same sex, inter-racial relationship and simultaneously dealing with our respective careers was no mean feat. Hence I can say for a fact that no matter who I am with in the future I will always carry massive amounts of respect and adoration for that woman.
And as for my talent, I love receiving all the spotlight it gets. I just lap it all up like a hungry b*tch, I am currently working on my single: an investment of a lot of love, time and skills and hope to release the music video sometime midway through this year.
If you could give one message to the mothers of indian queer children, what would it be?
Growing up in a country as prejudiced as India, life won’t be easy but you got to believe in what you have to offer to this world. And believe in it deeply. Irrespective of the medium, if it’s a manifestation of love, light and kindness, it will eventually conquer the hatred that exists.
How are you going to celebrate women’s day 2019?
I’ll be celebrating Women’s day by working. I will be shooting for a small web series role I was offered recently.
I think the best way all women can essentially celebrate this day is not through flowers, cards or chocolates but by putting their soul in whatever it is they do. Be it heading a multi-national company or changing a baby’s diaper and by not judging each other for the same.