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Gentlemen’s Club – a Review

Supriya Newar

Five girls took Centre Stage and brought the house down with their bold, uninhibited yet thoroughly entertaining act in ‘Gentlemen’s Club’ at G.D.Birla Sabhaghar recently. The 80 minute act showed five star performers, who dressed and spoke like men, but not just any ordinary men. Contrary to the more prevalent drag queens, these girls were drag kings who performed in Mumbai and had a fan following to boot. The most legendary amongst them was Shamsher who stands inspired by yesteryear Yahoo King Shammi Kapoor. With a shimmering gold jacket and a puffed up wig, she brought to life evergreen hits such as ‘badan pe sitaare’, ‘kis kis ko pyar karun’ and ‘o haseena.’

Each of the other girls too had their own individualistic style and act. There was Sheena Khalid as Alex, Shamsher’s friend and partner who did a JT or a Justin Timberlake in her suit and hat and her uber cool. Mukti Mohan came in as a sardar and pulled off a tremendous bhangra number, all along unabashedly adorning a dim wit.

“Revolution is in our blood,” roared a mean looking, politically left-aligned Ratnabali Bhattacharjee, who revved up the audience with her delightful rendition of ‘ding-a-ling.’ All along, their lives, inspiration and story was being captured by a journalist, played by Rachael D’Souza who as luck would have it, got embroiled enough in the story to try on the war paint herself. “Another one bites the dust,” concluded Ratnabali wryly.

If the girls and the writer had subtler points on feminism or gender equality to make, they did so but subtly without the message ironically, enough becoming a drag even once. The application of the ‘binder’ sported by each of the girls, which they used to compress their contours, was displayed boldly by Shamsher, making a strong symbolic point on suffocating voices. The finale saw all the actors come together for a last jig to a much hooting, cheering audience. Written by Vikram Phukan and marked by sheer talent, energy and dollops of spunk, ‘Gentlemen’s Club’ made for a great watch.