Watching Ayushmann Khurrana play Sita and Draupadi in Dream Girl takes us back to the time when all female characters in Indian cinema were played by men, as women were not allowed to work in films. From the time cross-dressing acquired legitimacy when Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams donned the dress in Tootsie and Mrs Doubtfire. Here are the most famous drag acts of Hindi cinema.
1. Amitabh Bachchan in Laawaris: All hell broke loose when mega-star. the indomitable Mr B donned a Parsi woman’s look for the song Mere angnein mein tumhara kya kaam hai at the peak of his career. Forgetting that Indian theatre and cinema has a long tradition of crossdressing moviegoers attacked Mr Bachchan for vulgarity and crassness. As he told me,this was before it became fashionable for heroes to assert their masculinity on screen by showing off their feminine side.Macho ado about nothing.
2. Kamal Haasan In Chachi 420: A brazen copy of the Hollywood film Mrs Doubtfire I would go as far as to say Kamal Haasan out-excelled Robin Williams in the original.Playing his own daughter’s nanny in order to get access into seeing the child after divorce ,Kamal created a real character and not a caricature of a woman. He modeled the character on one of his own aunts.
3. Rishi Kapoor, Paintal in Raffoo Chakkar: Another shameless copy, this time ripping off Billy Wilder’s 1959 hit Some Like It Hot about two con-men on the run from the mob disguised as woman. While refraining from comparing the performances in the original with the unofficial remake I’d like to say one thing. Rishi Kapoor was prettier than both Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon in the original.
4. Govinda In Aunty No 1: A terrible terrible remake of Mrs Doubtfire, this one had Govinda pulling out all stops as everyone’s favourite aunty. All sexed-up and raring to glow, Govinda was priceless in a useless film. When I asked him if he had modeled his aunt act on anyone he knew Govinda has quipped. “Why any one aunt? I know so many Auntijis who are like the one I play.”
5. Aamir Khan in Baazi: Ashutosh Gowariker’s inglorious beginnings as a filmmaker were further plagued by plagiarism . In this odd and uneven remake of DiehardAamir , playing a cop , got into the drag act to belt out Dole dole in an elaborately done dance sequence. Aamir being Aamir he waxed his chest legs and made sure he felt like a woman. All in vain since the film is today forgotten even by Gowariker.