Y-Films, the youth entertainment division of Bollywood powerhouse studio Yash Raj Films, has started off the new year on a queer-friendly note. The company has launched India’s first transgender pop group, called 6 Pack Band. The six members, Asha Jagtap, Bhavika Patil, Chandni Suvarnakar, Fida Khan, Komal Jagtap, and Ravina Jagtap, are all members of the hijra community. None of them has sung professionally before.
The 6 Pack Band was launched with an Indianised cover of the Pharrell Williams hit song Happy. The track Hum Hain Happy features lead singer Fida Khan singing in English as her band members join in a chorus. Listeners are encouraged to “bajao taali” (clap their hands), which refers to the signature clapping sound associated with the eunuch community.
Ashish Patil, who heads Y-Films, said at the launch event in Mumbai, “After the success of our web series, Man’s World and Bang Baaja Baaraat, we wanted to do something to bring about change. We wanted to do it without sermonising. We realised through Man’s World in which we were dealing with the issue of gender equality that we could say a lot of things while entertaining.”
This mission sparked off the idea of taking the music route. “We decided it is the best form, and through it we are promoting talent that is never recognised,” Patil said. “We see eunuchs at traffic signals begging for a living. No one hires them; there is no dignity for them as they are abandoned by family, and society.”
The team at Y-Films includes music composer Shamir Tandon, who auditioned the singers, and singer Sonu Nigam, who readily attached himself to the project. “I have always wanted to do something for the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community and when Ashish and Shamir came to me with the idea, I immediately agreed,” Nigam said. The singer has lent his voice to the track Rab De Bande with 6 Pack, and he also features in a video that will be released later in January.