Music truly has no religion. Or class, race or any bias. And that's exactly what is reinforced when one looks at the acclaimed 6 Pack Band, India's first and truly unique music group comprising of a group of transgenders. They walked in on India's music scenario back in 2016 and have literally been unstoppable since then.
Put together by music composer Shameer Tandon, the band is made up of six people- Fida Khan, Ravina Jagtap, Asha Jagtap, Chandni Suvarnakar, Komal Jagtap and Bhavika Patil. So far the group has come out with 5 songs and they have been much loved by fans. And their exceptional talent has been recognised in the industry and celebrities such as Hrithik Roshan, Sonu Nigam, Arjun Kapoor and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan have featured on their singles too. Bollwyood singer Sonu Nigam, who has also whole heartedly supported the enterprising group of professionals has declared their entry into the musical scene as a 'game changer' for the industry.
At a time when trans rights are being discussed high and lows and acclaimed trans icons and others from India and around the world are fighting to give them their rights to live and work and create, 6 Pack Band has emerged as a harbinger of hope and gender inclusivity and justice.
The road wasn't easy for the band though. It never is for them, for these people who have always had to fight tooth and nail to make a mark in the society they live, who give them a place to live, but not the respect and love they deserve.
Komal Jagtap's story of finally gaining a life of dignity has also not come easy. Now one of the performers in the band, Komal has had to face ostracization from family and others every step of the way. But her grit to make it on the grounds of her talent as a singer is what gave her the needed push to achieve what so few from her demographic has reached so far, a life of respect.
Assigned a male at birth, Komal knew she never was one. She just didn't fit. Growing up, facing verbal abuse and gender injustice was commonplace for her and thus at age 10, Komal left home when she did not even get support from her family either. After initial struggles, at that young age, she joined a trans community in Pune and began a new life where she didn't feel like an ostracized person, she told The Better India.
She completed studies till class 9 and then started singing and dancing at people's homes during occasions such as childbirth. But it was still not what she craved for a life of dignity.
"No one gave us jobs or any social security. The stigma and alienation still make me wonder what exactly is our fault," she was quoted as saying.
Although Komal then somehow did a few one scene roles in shows such as 'Bhootnath Returns' and 'Savdhan India', success in music in the way she wanted was still a distant dream. But then came the life-altering audition. Y films, a division of Yash Raj Films was looking for a different band and Komal auditioned for them. Her passion, love for music and her confidence made her stand out from a crowd of 250 participants to be chosen.
The community has a lot of to give, like every other community and the organizers wanted to give them a platform for the same through music and performance.
The others in the band have all similar stories of facing injustice but have been brave and have come out stronger, better.
Bhavika Patil was left by her family and she had to fend for herself. Working as a nurse at a clinic, she was discriminated against, didn't get promoted, was insulted for her sexuality. So she quit but then music changed her life. 6 Pack gave her a purpose and she hasn't looked back since.
Chandni Suvarnakar too has had it tough but had her family as a support system, she told Hindustan Times.
A love for music is what has kept them together and that same love and passion helped them make a mark when the band got international accolades with the only Indian performance at the Cannes festival in 2017 and were adjudged winners of the Cannes Grand Prix Glass Lions Award and nine Emvies Awards.
But there's a long way to go. The band wishes to branch out and perform more in Bollywood movies and other platforms, showcasing their talents. And with the increasing talk of gender quality everywhere, the flame of hope isn't dead.