Patruni Sastry is an Indian classical dancer, drag performer, actor, and model. He is known for founding the online drag platform DragVanti. He is also considered the first drag queen of India.
Patruni Chidananda Sastry was born on Friday, 25 December 1992 (age 29 years; as of 2022) in Kharagpur, West Bengal. Later, he moved to Hyderabad, Telangana. His zodiac sign is Sagittarius.
Patruni Sastry’s childhood picture with his sister (on right)
In his childhood, his father noticed that he was interested in dancing, so he asked Patruni to join the Kuchipudi dance classes under Patruni’s aunt. From class 1 to class 7, he pursued his training in Bharatanatyam under his guru Kalamandalam Venkitt in Kolkata. In 2001, he attended Kendriya Vidyalaya and studied there till 2008. From 2008 to 2010, he studied at the State Board of Technical Education and Training, West Bengal. He did a Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.) from West Bengal University of Technology, Kolkata, from 2010 to 2014. He did a post-graduation diploma in telecom management from Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Pune (2015-2017). Patruni then did a diploma in Bharatanatyam from Kalai Kaviri College of Fine Arts, 18 Benwells Road, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu. From 2015 to 2017, he pursued a Master of Business Administration in Telecommunications Management from Jaipur National University, Rajasthan.
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Gender & Sexual Orientation
Firstly, Patruni identified him as gender fluid, and he then identified him as a Pansexual. In 2021, he said that he was Pomosexual.
Parents & Siblings
His father, Patruni Dharmayya, is a Carnatic singer. He has an elder sister named Nishika Patruni.
Patruni Sastry with his parents
Patruni Sastry with his sister
Patruni Sastry’s grandparents
Wife & Children
On 18 August 2021, Patruni got married to a heterosexual girl named Rajeswari Raji. During an interview, he shared how he met Raji for the first time. He said,
During lockdown, I hosted live shows online during Pride month and noticed an unfamiliar account following my every move and showing up at every live show I put on. Months later, at a family function where a relative put a little too much kumkum on my forehead, which then went into my eyes, I met Raji. I felt a warmth I’d never experienced and then realised she was offering me a towel to clear my eyes. A few minutes into the conversation, she asked me an amusing question, What is drag? I thought it came out of nowhere. I didn’t realise at the time that my “adoring social media fan” was none other than Raji.”
Patruni Sastry’s wedding picture
After talking on social media for a few days, they exchanged their phone numbers and started talking. Initially, they became friends and soon, fell in love with each other. One day, Patruni sent a message to Rajji talking about his sexuality. During an interview, Patruni talked about it, he said,
I dropped her a text one day: I am pansexual. The next day, I got back two weblinks about pansexuality and a question: Is this what you meant? I needed to know whether she understood me, so I called her. It doesn’t matter what your sexuality or gender is. I may not fully understand these words and feelings, but it only matters whether you love me and wish to be with me.”
Patruni Sastry with his wife
Patruni was born in a Tamilian Brahmin Hindu family.
Patruni is trained in various dance forms such as Odissi, Contemporary, and Butoh. He is trained in Bharatanatyam under his gurus such as Sri Kalamandalam Ventak in Kolkata, Smt Vaidehi Subhash, and Sri Hari Mangalampalli from Hyderabad. He did his training in the Oddisi dance form under Swayam Pragyan Shahoo and Preeti Mohapatra. He did his training in Kuchipudi dance from Sri Siva Kumar. He is trained in Butoh (an Avant grade art form) under Adam Koan from Japan.
Patruni Sastry performing in his school’s function
Patruni performed his first drag performance at the age of 14 in a traditional Kuchipudi dance competition. Since then, his parents supported him. His mother did his makeup for his performance, and his father clicked his pictures. While he was working in Hyderabad in 2014, he decided to make his career as a drag queen. He gave his performance as a drag queen for the first time at a local café in Hyderabad. However, it did not turn out to be fruitful for him. During an interview, Patruni said,
I wanted to quit this time since I couldn’t resonate with the aesthetics of beauty standards and glamour of the traditional drag which we, as a country, have adopted from the West. The dissonance was more apparent because I had always looked up to traditional artists like Bal Gandharva and Chapal Bahadur as my inspiration. These aesthetics weren’t suitable for the changing identity of my body as I kept exploring gender fluidity.”
In June 2020, Patruni started an online platform for budding drag queens with the name ‘DragVanti.’
He adopted the drag name ‘Suffocated Art Specimen’ (S.A.S) and performed at various drag events. He termed his style of dance form as “Indian Expressionism.” In the dance form, a person expresses his emotions through various dance forms. In an interview, he talked about the same, he said,
One thing I found out is that people were not aware of the subjects like polymorphism, gender fluidity etc. and televisions regularly misinterpretations of LGBT+ individuals, which bogged me down. A constant fight of the right of identity made me think of using art as a medium to create awareness, activism, education, and experience. I reconfigured Expressionism dance which was used as a tool at the time of World War 2. Using the same art form into the Indian context of classical dance, I created Indian classical expression to showcase subject from gender binary to sexual education, gender fluidity to gender rights and so on.”
He has also included various social messages in his dance forms and has performed for various organisations such as Mobbera Foundation, Mental Health Organization, Good Universe, Human Library, and the Humsafar trust. Patruni has performed at many dance festivals like Golden Beach Festival and Kalpashree Dance Festival. He has also appeared in the theatre play “Skepticism” directed by the theatre director Amaan Ahemad from Hyderabad. He has also performed at various Traminal Drag events. His popular drag productions are Pancha Pandhakas (Untold Queer characters of Indian Mythology), La Nari (why women suffer), Kavach (all about safe sex), Nir Rod (Condom), and Aratrika (Indulging with Alcohol Addiction).
Pancha Pandhakas (Untold Queer characters of Indian Mythology)
Some of the popular performances of Patruni as a drag queen are ‘Four Play’ (2019), ‘Strip Tease’ (2019), ‘Mati’ (2019), and ‘69’ (2020).
Patruni has worked as a drag queen in many events such as ‘Queer And Allie Film and Art Festival’ (2014 and 2019), ‘International Story Telling Festival’ (2017), ‘Menstrual Festival, Hyderabad’ (2018), and ‘Hyderabad Dance Festival’ (2021).
In June 2014, Patruni started working at Wipro, Kolkata, as an associate. He worked there for 3 months and then worked as a trainee system engineer at the IT firm Armia Systems Inc. in Cochin. In May 2015, he joined Tech Mahindra as an associate. He worked as an associate analyst at Deloitte, Hyderabad, from June 2015 to February 2016. He then joined HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Hyderabad, as a customer service representative. He worked there for almost 9 months and then joined Deloitte Consulting, Hyderabad. After working there for 4 years, he joined a private firm CGI, Hyderabad, as a senior business analyst. Patruni then joined a private firm FactSet as a product development specialist.
Patruni Sastry has also been working for LGBTQ rights. In 2018, a Telugu YouTube channel uploaded a few videos against the LGBTQ community and against them Patruni filed a petition. In 2020, Patruni was invited as a guest in an episode of ‘Bigg Boss Telugu’ where he talked about transphobia. Later, in an interview, he shared his opinions on government policies framed against the LGBTQ community. He said,
I cannot believe that people who are involved in making polices are being this irrational about the basic gender rights of a human being. We expect our fellow citizens to stand with us in this as it’s a threat to the existence of entire community.”
In 2021, Patruni talked about DC Marvel’s bisexual superman. He said,
The whole Superman thing made me feel empowered after a long time. He came out as a bisexual which is not so usual. People usually come out as gay or a trans person. When a protagonist like Superman reveals his sexual identity, it triggers a conversation about gender diversity and inclusion. People need to understand that gender fluidity is not about costume play. Wearing a ghaghra or putting a nail paint from a cis-het privilege doesn’t make someone gender fluid. Such things are quite insulting and disqualifying to the actual lives of people who are gender fluid. It leads to a lot of trauma and disqualification of a person’s existence.”
During an interview, he shared his opinion on the portrayal of the LGBTQ community in Hindi films. Patruni said,
Even if Ram Gopal Verma’s Lesbian-based movie Dangerous is released in PVR and multiplexes, who is benefiting-RGV or the community? Is it message-oriented like Badhai Do or Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui? In a media interaction, he wanted to discuss only lesbian and not gay-related issues. If he donates half of his earnings to the community, then yes we can support him. Yet another shameless robbery of trans role was in Gangubai Kathiawadi. The only roles trans people get is to play are like this one and when some cis person plays a trans role, they take away the only opportunity.”
Patruni has acted in the English short film ‘Polar Night’ (2020).
In 2020, he directed the short film ‘Shoonyam’ as a director. He then worked as an editor for the short film ’70/100′ (2020). Patruni authored two books named “Dressing as a Goddess: A Drag Photo Book” and “My Experiments with Drag” in 2020.
My Experiments with Drag
He has also sung a few songs such as “Pride Masam Anna” (2021), “Cheeranjiva Sukhibhava” (2021), and “Chudu Sexy Gurl” (2021).
Pride Masam Anna (2021)
In 2022, he was featured in a few music videos such as “Kaun Bataye” by Dastaan Live and “Sunshine on the Street” by Peekay and Andrea Tariang.
- Patruni is also known as Sas III and SAS .
- In an interview, he shared that when he was around 7 years old, he watched a Telugu dubbed Tamil film ‘Padayappa’ (1999). In a scene in the film, the Indian actor Rajinikanth rejected Ramya Krishnan after which screamed loudly and danced continuously to burst out her anger. After watching the scene, Patruni related the character of Ramya with his own life. He said,
What fascinated me the most in the movie was a character called ‘Neelambari’ which was played by Ramya Krishnan. In a sequence, upon being rejected by the hero, she screams loudly and dances vehemently. That was the very first time I saw someone dancing and I thought that if I wanted to be taken seriously, I needed to scream out loud and dance. It started when my mom didn’t give me my favourite chocolate. I started to dance in range to ensure that I got one.”
- In an interview, Patruni shared that he was mocked by his PT teacher for choosing dance over PT. He said,
I remember being this way even when I was a child. When I was in class V, we had choice of attending PT class or dance class. I chose dance. I even learnt dance for about three weeks, until my PT teacher stormed into class one day and started abusing me for taking dance instead of PT. ‘PT is meant for boys and dance is for girls’, he said. That is my first memory of being exposed to gender stereotypes. Since then, I’ve been encountering these stereotypes everywhere, throughout my life. I still don’t understand why everything from what we wear to the work we do to how we behave is given a gender colour.”
- Patruni once shared that while he was in college, he had a girlfriend. They dated for almost two years, and the first year of their relationship went well, but she then started asking him to change his dressing style and mannerism to a man. In an interview, he said,
I was studying B Tech when I first fell in love. It was with a girl from my college. We were in a relationship for nearly two years. The first year went by okay. But soon, she started telling me what kind of clothes I should wear and what kind of mannerisms I should to adopt as a ‘male’ person. That left me perplexed. The problem was that though I looked like a man physically, my sexual orientation and gender identity were not fixed. But at that time, there was no awareness about gender spectrum or gender orientation. If this battle within myself wasn’t enough, there was a battle to be fought outside as well. I was even the victim of ragging and bullying in college — mostly thanks to how I looked and behaved. That’s when I first began to use dance as a tool of activism.”
- For more than five times, he has been invited by TedX as a guest speaker.
Patruni Sastry at a TedX event
- According to his Facebook account, his favourite quote is,
Life is a popcorn . it shows both highest and lowest. life is a water bubble it doesn’t grantee its existing. life is a game. has equal probability of success and failure life is a song .. has many scales . i am my life. i am what i want.”