Nov 20, 2014

Queen Harish Mujara

Queen Harish 2014

It has been long long time that I wrote on my blog. Let's share some photos 

Oct 6, 2010 is now live and entertaining, it's a great new cosmetic experience like playing around with a new make up kit on a completely improved customised stage i love to dance on.

For now i will keep this blogspot on but won't post anymore here, please follow me in this new space!

Sep 5, 2010

Quarter Finals!

The competition spirit, the marketing, the votes, the comments from Kirron Kher, Sajid Khan and my self proclaimed biggest fan Sonali Bendre, the new choreography work on "Parda Parda" from the film "Once upon a time in Mumbai", the new costumes and the ultimate pleasure to be on Indian Television ...

here is the video of the quarter final on India's Got Talent Khoj 2, another Queen Harish two minutes of fame:

Queen Harish at India Got Talent Khoj 2 - September 4th 2010

Special Thanks to Veronica "Veve" de Souza and to all my fans from India and all my friends from Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, Mumbai and Gujarat for their votes!

Sep 2, 2010

Vote for Queen Harish !

Watch me performing a new very colourful synchronised choreography in the top 48 of India Got Talent on Colours Channel this Saturday 4Th September at 9PM.

Vote for me to reach the Top 12 by sending upto 100 SMS per mobile phone with "QH" to 56882
You can start sending the messages from my appearance on screen till the next morning 8AM.

Much Love

Aug 29, 2010

Dance Like a Man

text by Anushree Majumdar

A man who slips into the gait of a woman, a dancer in drag who is father of two. In the gallis of Jaisalmer and on a stage in Seoul, Harish Kumar turns into a diva that men desire. Where the lines blur, there begins the incredible double life of Queen Harish.

A silicon breast is a weapon of mass seduction. And two will help you find your target. Harish Kumar gently filled his bustier top with one each; he was close to the end of his routine. One that had begun an hour ago by sitting with his chrome make-up box, mixing powders and paints and applying colours on the canvas that is his face. Kryolan, MAC, Lakme — no expense spared to ensure that the hard lines of his nose and jaw were softened, made feminine. He squeezed into a heavy red-and-gold ghagra, slipped on Rajasthani bangles that went up till his shoulders, adjusted his wig and stepped into his Salvatore Ferragamo pumps. In the mirror, we saw a slim, taut-waisted woman, with heavy-lidded eyes and high breasts. Kumar was now Queen Harish and she was ready for the kill.

Continue reading on Indian Express

Aug 16, 2010

Now, what about India ?

Yes India ... and here is a humble yet wishful start...

Dec 22, 2009

Queen Harish presents I N D I A

INDIA, a show designed by the world's most spectacular showmaker, Franco Dragone Entertainment ( Cirque du Soleil, Celine Dion, Le Reve at Wynn Las Vegas ... ).

I have been busy with this project since last August, giving lots of auditions and working for several months on the creation and rehearsals.

I feel really blessed to have given my dance in the hands of luminary choreographers such as Show Director Brian Burke, Ray Leeper and even Shiamak Davar...

They made me the main character, the thread of the storyline of INDIA, the show.

I am The Queen walking through her Palace as she guides her guests through the universe of INDIA.

I am the story teller with a pantomime of sparkling jeweled eyes, parading, elegantly dressed in a wide serie of flamboyant costumes of rich tones.

I am unpredictable, carrying the sword of Fire, as i turn INDIA into a Circus of fairies.

Always around, i accompany the acrobats as they make their entrances and exits to the land of mystery and wonders.

I exude the most feminine sensuality as i glide across the stage leading groups of nymphs for enchanted dancing.

Graceful, fragile and inaccessible, my exuberance is infectious, as i stand for fantasy and desire, i will whirl for madness and suddenly disappear in a cloud of stardusts...

The show premiered in Frankfurt, Germany on December 17th and performed 62 times until February 7th, 2010. The show is currently on a winter break.

This is the first Indian Circus of the 21st century!

You have never seen Queen Harish in such a setting and with such a choreography!!

I will keep on posting news and images about the development and future of

A very very special thank to my friend Arnaud Azzouz who worked on the casting of I N D I A and opened me the door of this project!

Here are a few reports from the local German TV

And an exclusive video from the

beginning of the rehearsals several months ago

before the premiere:

The Amazing photo serie by Dancer specialist photograph extraordinaire Andre Elbing:

Snippets video cuts from some of my 12 entries in this show:

Dec 14, 2009


Friends, fans and readers who have been admiring the photo of the Atlantis hotel since last July are probably wondering what's happened to me since i haven't updated this page and myspace and had not been really much on Facebook either.

I am well in high spirit and am currently in Frankfurt, Germany.

Since last July in Dubai, i had a few shows and workshops in Paris, Belgium and Germany, then a serie of auditions for a gigantic show project that i am rehearsing everyday since last October here in Frankfurt.

In a few days i will post all informations about it!!

Much Love

Jul 5, 2009

Next Stop is D U B A I !!

Queen Harish will be performing very private parties at The Atlantis Hotel in Dubai

Apr 21, 2009

Queen Harish next Shows in USA

Major performances will happen there:

Los Angeles : Raqs LA on April 25th 
New York : Sholay - Desilicious on May 8th
Ft Lauderdale : Spirit of the Tribes on May 9th
San Francisco : Tribal Fest afterparty on May 16th

There are plenty other performances and workshops, read my tour dates in the column on the right.

Mar 30, 2009

Learning Dance with Queen Harish

Follow my tour schedule and learn from me wherever in the world

You can also travel to India and visit me in my hometown of Jaisalmer, gateway of the desert in western Rajasthan.
I will organize private or group workshop but also your accommodation and travels, contact me for details

Mar 22, 2009

Who's that Girl ?

Designer duo Lecoanet-Hemant come up with a cheeky, androgynous show at Delhi Fashion Week

It’s a sight rarely seen in an Indian show — a 27-year-old cross-dressing belly dancer walking down the ramp in a girly strapless pink gown, hunching his broad shoulders like a seasoned model. When Harish Kumar aka Queen Harish from the fabulous ruins of Jaisalmer took a bow with designer Hemant Sagar and socialite Priya Chatwal, the audience erupted into an ecstatic applause.

While some praised the mischievous and cheeky idea by designer duo Lecoanet-Hemant, critics and fashionistas alike twittered about the simmering element of homosexuality running through the show. Even designer Rohit Bal, watching from the sidelines, cracked into a smile. “I wasn’t intimidated in the least. I know how to handle myself,” gushed Queen Harish, blinking at the television cameras surrounding him. He added with a smile, “I taught the models some belly dancing moves backstage.” Queen Harish has performed as a belly dancer all over the world.

Lecoanet-Hemant’s show offered distinct looks, and told a story with a photographer-stylist Francois Matthys walking the ramp, and even Sagar’s factory caretaker Mohan, in a bellboy uniform, juggling five bags, took a shy turn. Sagar himself swaggered down with ease.The creations included a monsoon coat fashioned out of recycled plastic and a decadent Maharaja look, with some fantastically embroidered jackets. Sagar, however, looked chic in a very basic black suit. When asked whether he was attempting to mainstream homosexuality with a male belly dancer on centre stage at his show, Sagar retorted tersely, “Every sex is part of the world. If you don’t want to see reality, then close your eyes.

Jan 18, 2009

Queen Harish in Jaipur, Bombay and Brussels

Since i came back from the October Asian tour it was wedding season in India so i traveled across the country to perform at many private events.
I am very grateful to all the dancers who traveled all the way from Japan, Europe and US to my home in Jaisalmer to become my students and experience my dance in the desert.

Now it is touring time again :
Cheb i Sabbah is coming to Jaipur and invite me and Colleena to perform with him, Veve the most famous Brazilian Bellydancer from India has decided to launch a Queen Harish monthly workshop and event in Bombay and a very expected event is my come back to Brussels after 6 years to teach and perform at Raqs Congress.

January 21 : with Cheb i Sabbah .
Jaipur Litterature Festival . opening event
January 25 : with Cheb i Sabbah . 
Jaipur Litterature Festival . closing event 

February 3 : workshop in Mumbai hosted by Veve , register here 
February 3 : "Gypsy Caravan Hafla Night" at Zenzi in Bandra, Mumbai

February 5,6,8 : Raqs Congress with Randa Kamel, Tito, Farida Fahmi ...Brussels, Belgium

Sep 9, 2008

Queen Harish Asian Tour

Starting October 1st, Queen Harish will be touring in South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Singapore.

On this tour Queen Harish will teach and perform at The World Bellydancer Championship in Seoul, South Korea, Tania Luiz' Studio in Osaka, Japan, at Mishaal' Studio in Tokyo and at Rumpuree Studio in Bangkok.
Queen Harish will be performing several solo shows but most importantly will be the guest dancer to Fanfare Ciocarlia, the Gypsy Brass Band from Romania, featured in the film Gypsy Caravan, they are the greatest influence to todays'fashion for Balkan Beats and Queen Harish will be dancing on all dates of their Japanese tour produced by Plankton.

October 1 : World Bellydance Championship - Seoul - South Korea / info
October 2 : World Bellydance Championship - Seoul - South Korea / info
October 3 : World Bellydance Championship - Seoul - South Korea / info
October 4 : Dance Workshop - Kobe - Japan / info
October 5 : Dance workshop - Osaka - Japan / info
October 8 : Hyogo - Hyogo Hall with Fanfare Ciocarlia / info
October 9 : Nagoya - Club Quatro with Fanfare Ciocarlia / info
October 10 : Nagoya - Dance workshop / info : khalidakaori AT gmail DOT com
October 11 : Tokyo - Mitaka Civic Hall with Fanfare Ciocarlia / info
October 12 : Yokosuka - Art Center with Fanfare Ciocarlia / info
October 13 : Iwaki - ? - with Fanfare Ciocarlia / info
October 16 : Tokyo - Club Quatro with Fanfare Ciocarlia / info
October 18 : Kyoto - Biwako Hall with Fanfare Ciocarlia / info
October 19 : Matsumoto - Art Center with Fanfare Ciocarlia / info
October 20 : Tokyo - Workshop at Mishaal / info
October 25 : Tokyo - Workshop at Mishaal / info
October 26 : Tokyo - Workshop and Show at Mishaal / info
October 27 : Tokyo - Workshop at Mishaal / info
October 31 : Bangkok - Halloween Event at Dream BKK
November 1 : Bangkok - Workshop at Rumpuree / info
November 2 : Bangkok - Workshop at Rumpuree / info

In Osaka sponsored by Tania & Sefa :

On Tour with Fanfare Ciocarlia:

Already outside the venue, before the start, I could recognise the bellydancers among the concertgoers immediately. Then I simply followed a girl in melodia pants to the elevator. Upstairs I met more of those- with a very different attitude from everyone else in the waiting queues. Ethnic clothes, long hair, often piled into fantastic hair dos on top of the head, and all those Japanese dancers way more expressive and individualistic than the rest of the crowd... Continue Reading

Workshop in Nagoya :

Show & 3 days of Workshop at Mishaal in Tokyo :

Today we had a workshop on Rajasthani dance with Queen Harish! At Mishaal's place, and the hall was full. Wow, this was so much fun. I have been studying the history of the dances backwards, starting with Argentine Tango, and then going back to one of it's roots, flamenco, and then on to bellydance. And now, finally, the roots of bellydance- gypsy dance in Rajasthan! I was fascinated. One of the first things Harish showed us were the hand movements. Bending the hand at the wrist and then letting it circle slowly and gracefully while turning out the elbow and and moving the arm, like a snake- exactly the same movements I learned about 5 years ago in Sevilla, at Taller flamenco! Continue reading ...

Queen Harish a Bellydancer

Queen Harish has ben invited to perform and teach workshops at Raqs Congress in Brussels, Belgium, next February 6, 7, 8 alongside the masters of Bellydance such as Raqia Hassan, Randa Kamel ... The festival has a very impressive line - up and is a must to attend !!

In the meantime Queen Harish is working on the choreography of her very first Bellydance piece, obviously a fusion performance of Oriental, Rajasthani and Bollywood into a new and inspiring form of Bellydance...
Note that Queen Harish has already danced for so much different musicians and Djs and all their world of musics but here is the first time Queen Harish selects a non Indian song for his own's solo show!!

if the video does not load, please watch it from here

Jul 22, 2008

Interview in San Francisco Chronicle

photo by Aaron Dressin

Queen Harish dances in drag

Monday, July 21, 2008

"I like to copy the Bollywood actresses," Queen Harish says with a chuckle. "But not the new kinds with the very short, short clothes." She prefers the colorful, traditional full skirts of her native Rajasthan. After being featured in the musical documentary "When the Road Bends: Tales of a Gypsy Caravan," Indian drag sensation Queen Harish has become quite the jet-setter. New York, London, Barcelona, Tokyo - "the dancing, whirling, desert drag queen," as she calls herself, is everywhere, flying in for celebrity weddings, giant outdoor concerts and gay parties.
Continue reading...

Jul 21, 2008


I am on the west coast since 2 weeks, and i am leaving Los Angeles for Seattle today.
I had a fabulous time in Los Angeles!! Performing with Cheb i Sabbah at Getty Center, in a loft at Donovan, teaching workshops with Jenna and walking on the wild side with Princesss Farhana !!!!
I cant wait to come back !!!!

First city in California I arrive in San Diego, invited by Danyavaad, a dance and music collective with dancers Leilainia and her very talented sister on the fronthead. They have a wonderful entertainment vision and we look look forward to explore it further very soon!!

Before reaching California, i stopped for some days in the small city of Portales in New Mexico, invited by Yolanda Del Rio who is bringing world dances and cultures in this community. It was lovely!!

Jul 1, 2008

5 Days in New York

Performance at Drom:

Ultra Party & Performance at Tribal Dance Festival in Brooklyn organised by
Trisha McBride and Joy.
I love the American Bellydancers community because they love me too!

My first workshop in NYC at Bellyqueens, sponsored by Kaeshi:

God is with me!
I met with Rupa & The April Fishes at Drom Gypsy Club and she invited me to perform at her show at Central Park Summer Stage!!
My last performance on this stage was back in 1999...

I cant believe what happened to me while performing at the Post Pride Parade event "Color Me Queer"
, a Desilicious Sholay event.

If the video does not load ( ?? ) please watch it from here

I still miss photos of the performance at Jebon, please send me!

and if any better photos please send also!!

Now i will travel to New Mexico, California, and Seattle.
More photos very soon on this blog!
See you during the tour!!
Consult my tour list in the rightside column to catch up with me!

Jun 10, 2008

US Tour : June 20 - August 2

Tour Schedule in the column on the right.

On this solo tour, i will be performing my Cabaret performance , it includes Haremly Mujra, Rajasthani Gipsy and Bollywood impros.
i will also conduct workshops of Rajasthani , Bollywood and Mujra dances.
Also, I will be dancing for :
Cheb i Sabbah
Dj Amar
Rupa & The April Fishes

i am very honoured to have been invited on this tour to conduct, a workshop at cult Fat Chance BellyDance studio in San Francisco, to close the New York Pride at Desicilicious postParade event, to be part of Cheb i Sabbah's 1002 nights collective for a unique show at Los Angeles Getty Center and to dance with Rupa & The April Fishes on the Summer Stage of NYC Central Park!

Some press is starting to be out , read Dance San Diego

The tour schedule is in the column on your right, there are still some days off where you can invite me to your city, contact me at queenDOTharishATgmailDOTcom

Apr 29, 2008

Queen Harish & Colleena

Colleena & me have a Bellywood project cooking, we have worked and performed together several times this season in Rajasthan and are planning to produce a duo show to be launched early 2009.

Discover the introduction of our duo project on this new blog

For now Colleena has left Pushkar for the summer, she is touring in Europe and North America.

I am also taking a leave to the United States from June 15th till about July 31st. to reconnect with the peoples and I am looking forwards to extend this tour and wait for your calls ( queen DOT harish AT gmail DOT com ) to participate in projects over there in North America.

Apr 28, 2008

Queen Harish debut in Taliwood

If the video does not load ( ?? ) please watch it from here

My debut as a lead dancer in Taliwood (South Indian Bollywood) film : "Appudappudu".

In this scene happening during Holi festival, i do a flirt dance with the hero, he wants to divorce his wife... and she keeps an angry eye on me ...

I have my face behind my veil during the entire dance but watch out for the surprise, just at the end!

If the video does not load ( ?? ) please watch it from here

Feb 11, 2008

Les Galeries Lafayette Exhibition

My portrait in an installation by photographer
Anne Garde at Les Galleries Lafayette in Paris,
where the century-old, high end department store
remakes itself as an Indian showcase.

Galeries Lafayette creates India
through an
eclectic array of products services, exhibition and entertainment.

Dec 25, 2007

Dec 15, 2007

Queen Harish, Sx in Sydney

Queen H a r i s h
has a feature in SX News the leading gay and lesbian newspaper in Sydney

Dancing Queen

Fourteen years ago, 29-year-old Harish’s mother and father died, so he took up dancing at night to make enough money to take care of the rest of his family in Rajasthan. Thus, Queen Harish was born.

“I think Queen Harish is my alter ego – drag is in my blood, and while I am dressed as her I can let loose all my greatest passions, flirtations and wild behaviour!” she says on the eve of her first visit to Australia.

continue reading ...

Queen Harish in the Movie

Queen Harish features in the film "Gypsy Caravan".

A Buena Vista Social Club for Gypsy Music, and also the chance to discover both 'Mr Harish Kumar' at home and Queen Harish on stage, make up sessions, interviews, promenade in Jaisalmer city, in the desert ... and amazing shots of her fantastic dance, captured while she was dancing for MAharaja, the Rajasthani music group, during the Gypsy Caravan North American tour, back in 2001.

The film is now distributed worldwide, try catching it in a theater near you, and for here is a little raw footage :

If the video does not load, please watch it from here

For the film release in Japan, the distributor had the wonderful idea to have me and my make-up skills on the poster ... very good !!
The film opens in Japanese theaters on January 12th !!!

Queen Harish, her lips, her winks ...

Catch Queen Harish hottest flirtatious mood here :

If the video does not load ( ?? ) please watch it from here

About Queen Harish : Some History

Queen Harish feels nostalgic of a time she has never lived ... Nevertheless, her 21st century lifestyle reflects it, as much as these quotes by William Dalrymple in "The City of Djinns".

The trouble was that, unlike most other periods of Delhi's history, there seemed to be very few good primary sources. There were the usual dubious court chronicles, but the accounts of the different palace intrigues – the competing factions -, the endless rounds of murders, blindings, stranglings, stabblings and poisonings, seemed only to confuse, not in any way to illuminate the age. It was Mozaffar Alam, the Mughal historian, who told me about a book which became my favorite Delhi texts : the Muraqqa'-e- Delhi.

The Muraqqa' is a wonderfully gossipy account of Delhi taken from the diary of an impressionable young visitor named Dargah Quli Khan. Khan was a Muslim nobleman from the Deccan who paid an extended visit to Delhi from 1737 to 1741 as part of the entourage of Safdarjung's great rival : Asaf Jah, the first Nizam of Hyderabad.

For all its humiliating decline, khan saw Delhi as a vibrant and sophisticated city, fill of glamour and intrigue, the beauty of its palaces and shrines, he thought, was rivaled only by the strangeness of the city's society and its dazzling complement of poets, dancers and mystics. His account brings the whole city alive: the dry bones of the period are suddenly fleshed out and take on a recognizable human face. Typical of the account is the picture he gives of the festival held at the great Sufi shrine of the Qadam Sharif, which sheltered the supposed footprint of the Holy Prophet.

"Every Thursday the courtyard of the Dargah is so full of visitors that it is difficult even to approach the place and touch it,' he writes. 'Pilgrims and ascetics come from countries and cities far and near to seek the fulfillment of their desires."

But when Khan goes on to describe the crowds a little more closely, this picture of a prayerful pilgrimage undergoes something of a transformation: "On seeing beautiful women carrying in their hands porcelain bottles of perfume, the crowds become uncontrollable …the ecstatic people move around as though being swept into a whirlpool…gradually the singers gather and the Mehfil (gathering) becomes gay. Men and beautiful women also join in. Pleasure seekers retire to the corners and find the privacy to enjoy their desired company."

If this sort of thing could take place at the most sacred shrine in Delhi, then the festivals at the lesser Dargahs – such as that which grew up around the grave of the saintly Emperor Bahadur Shah 1 – could be even more lively. Quli Khan is clearly not sure wether he should be disapproving or excited about the orgy busily going on all around him.

(At night) chandeliers of all kinds are hung so that the place dazzles like sunlight and overshadows the moon.

Hand in hand, the lovers roam the streets while (outside) the drunken and the debauched revel in all kinds of perversities. Group of windsome lads violate the faith of the believers with acts which are sufficient to shake the very roots of piety. There are beautiful faces as far as the eye can see. All around prevails a world of impiety and immorality. Both nobles and plebians quench the thirst of their lust here.

Having described the main shrines and Sufi festivals and mystics, khan goes on to list the city's secular personalities: the nobles, the musicians and the great femmes fatales. These figures range from Azam Khan, 'one of the chief nobles of the Empire' whose principal claim to fame is his vast harem and his insatiable appetites ('a pederast, he is also found of beautiful girls…whenever he is informed of the availability of a lad or a fine wench he endeavours to be the buyer'); through Taqi, 'one of the famous eunuchs and the ringleader of the conjurors of Hindustan' ('his house is the abode of delicate beauties, some as fair as the dawn while others are as dark as volatile passion'); to the great musicians such as the blind drummer Shah Nawaz who played his own stomach as if it was a tabla drum, or the disgusting Surkhi, a glutton who 'snorred and expectorated loudly' but whose horrible habits were overlooked by his hosts because of the unique beauty of his voice ('as melodious as a nightingale'), his brilliant mimicry and his ready wit.

Best of all were the dancers and courtesans –beautiful women like Ad Begum whose speciality was to appear naked at parties, but so cleverly painted that no one noticed:'she decorates her legs with beautiful drawnings in the style of pyjamas instead of actually wearing them; in place of the cuffs she draws flowers and petals in ink exactly as found in the finest cloth of Rum.'.

The most famous of the courteseans was Nur Bai, whose popularity was such that everynight the elephants of the great amirs completely blocked the narrow lanes outside her house.

Even the greatest nobles could only gain admittance by sending in presents of large sum of money: 'whosoever gets enamoured of her gets sucked into the whirlpool of her demands,' writes Dargah Quli Khan, 'and brings ruin upon himself and his house.

Many people have become paupers after their association with her but the pleasure of her company can only be had as long as one is in possession of riches to bestow on her.' Meeting Nur Bai was clearly one of the highlights of Khan's visit to Delhi and at the end of his description he quietly drops in the fact that he 'had the good fortune of spending some time in her company…'

But if it was the courteseans that captured Dargah Quli Khan's imagination, his real admiration was reserved to the Delhi poets. One of the most interesting description in the Muraqqa' is of the famous Mehfils, the literary or musical evening for which the city was then renowned.

'Although Hazeen (a Persian Sufi) leads a life of purity and charm, there is always a large crowd gathered in his house,' wrote Khan. 'In the evening, the courtyard of his house is swept and sprinkled with rosewater and colourful carpets are spread out on a raised platform. The great poets then start the recitation of their work. Hazeen's verses make the audience ecstatic and inspire them to polish their own skills.'

Other Mehfils, however, attracted crowds for non-literary reasons:

(The poet Miran) is humble, well-mannered and hospitable.(But) he is also a connoisseur in the art of attracting charming new faces… As a result Miran's Mehfils always attract the beautiful and their lovers. Dancers begin to assemble from morning onwards… A large number of pretty young lads are lured to the show including both Hindu and Muslim catamites. Good looking women gather in such large numbers that the mere sight of them appeases the appetite, although (of course) for the lecherous this does not suffice.

Khan was in Delhi in 1739, during the Persian invasion, and he witnessed the bloody massacre when Nadir Shah's soldiers went berserk and massacred 150,000 Delhi-wallahs. In most histories the massacre is said to mark the end Mughal Delhi's greatness, yet Khan clearly sees the invasion as only a temporary setback for the city. Certainly, it dimmed the brightness of some of the Mehfils-one noble was forced to 'lay his capital at the feet of the Emperor' during the invasion and afterwards his Mehfils are described as 'subdued'- but there is no indication that Khan regarded the invasion as the end of an era; only with hindsight would that become clear. Instead, despite writing soon after Nadir Shah had returned to Persia, the overwhelming impression that Khan tries to convey is still of a bawdy city of joy, a place remarkable for its wild parties, its lively celebrations and orgiastic festivals.

It is, of course, an image of the city very far removed from the way most Delhi people conceive their home today. Modern Delhi is thought of either as a city of grey bureaucracy, or as a metropolis of hard-working, nouveau-riche Punjabis. It is rarely spoken of as a lively city, and never a promiscuous one. Yet, as I discovered that December, the bawdiness of Safdarjung's Delhi does survive, kept alive by one particular group of Delhi-wallahs.

You can still find them in the dark gullies of the Old City-if you know where to look.

Queen of Mujra

Queen Harish presents her Mujra Mehfil Theme Night at the Harem of Udaipur City Palace, the Zenana Mahal.

It featured, in the most opulent setup: Bansi Lal Dholi on Fire, Nazir & Rafiq Niazi on Qawals and Chand Mohamed on Caligraphies, an evening produced by Arnaud Azzouz for Seventy.

The Mujra Mehfil Night is a highly entertaining and interactive spectacle total lead by Queen H a r i s h, that goes on climaxing for several hours of uninterrupted music and irrepressible dances.

This choreographed show, theme evening, recalls of
when the Mughals took control of India, they had many of the original Hindu storytellers of the region of Rajasthan, brought into the courts as entertainers. In the courts, because stories from Hindu mythology were not of interest to the Mughal rulers, what was once the dance Kathak became infused with fast spinning, swift movements, and graceful hand gestures of Persian influence - the birth of "Mujra".

About Queen Harish : The Courtesan Cinema

Queen HarIsh drew inspiration for her romantic character from the Courtesan cinema such as ‘Umrao Jan’, ‘Pakeezah’ … these films shows the golden age of Indian entertainment.

Tudor Parfitt writes about it in her book: "Jews, Muslims,and Mass Media: Mediating the 'other' ":

The courtesan appears throughout Indian cultural texts, so it is not surprising that courtesans feature in many films, mostly in minor roles. However, some of the most popular film in Indian cinema may be class as 'courtesan films', in that their heroines are courtesans, while the usual gender imbalance of the films is reversed in that the heroes have minor roles. In films that have the courtesan in minor roles she is often Hindu but in the major roles she is always a Muslim. The two great films in which the main heroine is a courtesan are set in nineteenth century Avadhi Lucknow and Kanpur ( Umrao Jaan ) and Delhi / the Panjabi Princely state of Patiala in the early years of the twentieth century (Pakeezah/the pure one). Lucknow and Delhi were once two of the great centre of courtly Muslim culture.

The courtesan whose trade flourished in India until the early 20th century, was something like a geisha or hetaira. The most accomplished courtesans were said to be from Lucknow, the capital of Avadh. This city became north India 's major cultural centre after the decline of Delhi and was renowned for the quality of its Urdu language and literature. It was annexed by the British in 1856 and was one of the major centres of struggle in the 1857 uprisings. Although landowners from Avadh maintained a courtly culture in Lucknow at least until independence, it never achieved the sophistication of its earlier days, which are still remembered with great nostalgia by its elite. The world of courtesan also declined during the British period, as other spheres of public culture emerged. The final blow was dealt after independence as the loss of wealthy patrons came about with the abolition of Zamindars ('landowners'), and salons were banned.

Oldenburg's study of courtesans (tawa'if) in Lucknow, drawing on interviews with retired courtesans, shows very close similarities to Umrao Jan's story narrated by Ruswa. Courtesans were either born into the trade or sold into it as young girls by their parents or others. Umrao Jan was born in Faizabad, kidnapped as a young girl by her father's enemy and sold to a courtesan in Lucknow. They lived in households (kotha) run by a chief courtesan (choudhrayan), who had acquired wealth and fame through her beauty, her music and dancing talents, which she used to set up her own house where she would recruit and train younger courtesans. The courtesan had to learn music, Persian and Urdu poetry, Arabic grammar, and to dance the Mujra, a non-erotic dance where she pays her respects to the assembly. The best houses kept skilled male musicians and such householders were important patrons of music. The sons of the gentry were sent to the Kothas to learn etiquette and Urdu poetry, and presumably the art of lovemaking. Other women lived in the establishment, including the regular prostitutes (randi), who is often euphemistically called a courtesan. Although the profession of the courtesan has disappeared, she has remained an important figure in literature and later in film throughout the last century.

The courtesan has also been a popular figure in film, where her attractions give rise to a variety of pleasures in the audience. She is portrayed as a victim of men's lust and as an object of the viewer's pity, but also delights the audience in being the object of the male gaze as she dances for his entertainment. The combination of a beautiful actress, and the opoortunity for music and dance to be incorporated into the narrative are important, but viewers also enjoy the spectacle of the body, the elaboration of scenery and in particular of clothing, tied to a certain nostalgia arising from the decline and disappearance of courtesan culture.

The courtesan in the film makes her living by her sexual charms, and so is presented as an object of desire to the men in the mehfil ('gathering') and to the cinema audience. This usually culminates in the Mujra, where the filmmaler emphasizes the details of lyrics, music, costume and mise-en-scene. The role of the courtesan in films has been given only to the most beautiful actresses, such as Meena Kumari as the eponymous Pakeezah, while the most glamorous actress of her generation, Rekha, has had numerous courtesan roles including that of Umrao Jaan. Although the courtesan displays her sexual allure at all times in the film, she is usually presented as averse to her trade, to which she has been driven by the injustices of society, calling her body a Zinda lash ('living corpse'). An accomplished singer and dancer, she also writes Ghazals in which she expresses her desire for love and marriage, which she knows will be denied her because of her profession. Yet one of her attractions is that she is the woman who is the opposite of the wife, like the beloved of the Ghazal, she is unattainable, remote and perfect. Her sexuality is not associated with reproduction, nor is she expected to offer any nurture unlike the Hindu heroine – rather she is the essence of female eroticism. (Oldenburg argues that most courtesans, like many prostitutes, practiced lesbianism (chapat bazi), considering heterosexuality to be work, not pleasure.)

In Hindi cinema, the courtesan is pure (Pakeezah) and part of this is that she never appears in any way immodestly dressed. In fact one of the pleasure of the courtesan film lies in its elaborate use of clothing and make up. While Stella Bruzzi has discussed the meaning of clothes in western cinema, the semiotics of costume in Indian cinema has been little explored although it is an important source of symbols and signifiers of codes concerning status or class, westernization and the symbolic use of colour. Clothing in cinema is clearly a source of spectacle, sometime taken to extremes in song sequences where the heroine, and sometime the hero, has numerous costume changes to present a heady excess of consumption. As Bruzzi has argued, clothing is an important component of eroticism. This is foregrounded in the courtesan film, where the heroine's clothes heighten sexuality by their opulence and rich colours and textures, and their elaboration presents an exaggerated exhibition of gender difference. The veil is used to effect in the film to hide and conceal, in a display of eroticism rather than modesty, seen in the first song in Pakeezah (Inhen logon 'Those people') where the courtesan sings how men have taken her veil or her modesty. The courtesan is the woman who is constantly available for the male gaze, yet she remains concealed within her kotha, away from the eyes of wider society.

The courtesan film also fetishises the woman's body, usually the feet, which is one of the few uncovered parts of her body, although they are decorated with colours and jewellery. This is very clear in Pakeezah, where the lover leaves a note tucked into Pakeezah's toes on the train; Aap ke paon bahut haseen hain. Inhen zameen par mat utariyega, maile ho jaayenge! ( Your feet are very beautiful. Do not let them touch the ground, they will get dirty!') and her dance at her lover's wedding where she lacerates her feet on broken glass to leave symbolically resonant bloody marks on the white sheet of her performance. The only parts of her body which are usually visible are her hands, hennaed, manicured and bejeweled; and her mask-like face, again elaborately painted and jeweled, her hair tied back, and covered with a veil and more jewels.

The courtesan is a totally romantic figure: a beautiful but tragic woman, who pours out her grief for the love she is desied in tears, poetry and dance. Yet although denied marriage and respectability, she is also a source of power. The courtesan in the film live in splendid buildings, which are decorated exquisitely. As Veena Oldenburg has pointed out, the courtesan achieved her material and social liberation by reversing constraints on women's chastity and economic rights, succeeding through her combination of talent and education. The courtesans set up their own society within the Khotas, where they inverted many of society's rituals such as celebrating the birth of a girl like the birth of a boy in mainstream Indian culture. Perhaps women enjoy the pleasures the courtesan film as they find a figure of masochistic identification , a woman who canot find the love she wants, yet knowing that a woman's sexual attractions can provide her with power. Men may also enjoy the voyeuristic pleasures of looking at a beautiful sexually accomplished, woman yet whose status as victim allows for male fantasies of "saving her" – mostly from other men.

The beauty of the actresses in the courtesan film was not the only reason for their popularity. They were also women who had strong star personas, as the most beautiful, most tragic stars who themselves were never lucky in love. Their offscreen lives were read onto the image of the courtesan in film, as can be seen most clearly in the taking up of these stars as camp and gay icons, notably in the case of Meena Kumari (1932-1972).

This filmi view of the courtesan is very different from that presented in the book. Instead of the exquisite Rekha portraying an innocent Umrao Jaan, who falls in love with one of her clients while her story is told as a failed love story; in the novel Umrao admits she was rather plain and never fell in love although she had a number of significant affairs in addition to her regular clients. Rather than pining for an impossible love affair, she loves her work, her poetry and the pleasure, luxury and respect that this brought her. Aware of the pleasure of nostalgia, the last chapter in the book is the account of Umrao's reading of Ruswa's story of her life, where she sums it up herself in a clear, insightful manner. She was a prostitute, no beauty, but a woman of intelligence and skill:

It was my profession to dance and sing and steal men's hearts.

I was happy or unhappy depending on whether I was more or less successful than others in my profession.

I was not as pretty as the others, but because of my talent for music and mastery of poetry, I was one of the best.