Did you ever see a drag queen walking in the streets and performing? this is exactly what the people from the city of Hyderabad witnesses for the very first time. A group of young teams from Mobbera Foundation, an organization which works for LGBTQIA rights, in association with Telangana State Council of Aids Control Society (TSCAS) and AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Together presented a unique way of spreading awareness with specially curated Flash mob. This was one of its kind where classical expressionist dance, Bollywood and Drag came together to pass a message. People from all walks of life such as doctors, artists, software engineers, students and officials came together and dance on one beat.
The performance started with an expressionist dance presentation called as NIRROD or condom by Patruni Chidananda Sastry where he uses two unique masks to talk about two adults romanticizing and processing attraction, while this is happening, He immediately runs and Picks up a Giant Condom (Like prop) and plunges the mask into it (Symbolizing usage of condom) and hoisting the condom in the air up and straight. this performance makes the audience go right into the subject and creates curiosity. This is the time; the volunteers go into the public and share condoms.
Following the act, the members of Mobbera foundation joins the stage and performs few retro songs of Bollywood. With a mix of filmy music, they create an act called Sweekar. The act goes on development on how the HIV is spread and the discrimination a person affected with HIV faces within the society. that’s when a voice comes up “HIV is not spread by touch, they are a part of society and let’s respect and co-exist together”. Post which the team plunges into a happy song.
The end song brings a surprise element where Patruni Sastry in Trainmal Drag avatar Mohini D ’vi plunges into the team titillates the crowd. this is the very first-time art of drag is taken into streets and comes out of both pubs and club cultures. This leaves the crowd go bonkers. Drag takes the leap step and together creates a statement that prevention is better than cure. At the end the team puts up slogans like” Prevention is better than cure, use condoms and have safe fun”.
This performance was presented in more than 25 public locations including the most crowded railway stations of Secundrabad, Nampally Railway station, Punjagutta Central Mall, Kachiguda Railway station, Lumbini Park, Public Gardens, JBS Bustop, Rtc Bus stops for more than 2 weeks and then finally presented at curtain faller event at Ravindra Bharati Hyderabad.
Talking about the experience Patruni Chidananda Sastry said “Well, I really loved the idea when Sandy informed about this project, when we are in situation where classical dance is confined to auditoriums and stages, expressionism helps me to bring dance so close to the audience, it’s like where the art and people come on the same level. The toughest part was doing Drag, People were excited, mad and equally shocked to see something like this before. I still remember some random guys, auto drivers, etc. following me post the performances with their eyes full of lust. They were coming to see if I can offer them something. This situation reminds me of the Drag Phobia showcases in pubs and clubs in the city. However, this was a rebellion thought to include drag to make a statement that “world is my stage, and I don’t need your permission.””
Sandipan Kushary, founder of Mobbera foundations also confesses the hardship taken to make this event possible. He adds “Even when we are backed by a government project and taking valid permission by a government body. We still had to explain authorities of these places about the event and intrusively tackle Homophobia, drag phobia and transphobia. Rather than seeing the cause and involvement of the government we are rather ridiculed for our way of being ourselves. There were few authorities such as Prasad’s and Nehru gardens who directly rejected the permit giving lame excuses even when we had approvals from government officials. However, we were determined to do what we aim to and it’s the team effort which made us achieve what we wanted.” Anil Kohli, Co-founder of Mobbera foundation also added “the major problem is the sensitization of people. As Hyderabad is the highest state effected with HIV as per recent survey, it was highly needed to educate people on safe sex. We were able to cover most of the city and influence more than 10000 people to get tested. It was all the support by TSACS and AHF which helped us in making this successful”.
The highlight of the performance was when Shane Williams a transwoman and a corporate worker, joined the mob bringing drag queen and trans women together in one platform. Though there is always a misconception of drag queens and transgenderism , seeing both shaking a beat made a statement of inclusion and awareness.