15 Instances Of Cross-Dressing In Bollywood That We Indians Celebrated & Loved

Human societies have had gendered dress codes since the beginning of dressing up but humans have also cross-dressed since centuries for different reasons. Historically, cross-dressing didn’t mean a slur and was used to disguise people, ensure comfort and sometimes, self-discovery. Cross-dressing often fuels images of deviant sexualities and lifestyles in the minds of a populace fueled by politics and religion. Never mind the hordes of Bollywood characters we have laughed at/with, applauded, cried with for not just cross-dressing but displaying characteristics opposite to the ones assigned to their gender via our social constructs. The portrayal may be faulty, but here are Bollywood’s greatest cross-dressing acts that have been hits with masses of every sexual orientation:

Aamir Khan – Baazi (1995) / Tata Sky

From doing a seductive number for a movie, to playing a relatable aunty in the Tata Sky advertisements, Aamir Khan has done plenty of roles in the drag form.

Kamal Hassan – Chachi 420 (1997)

India’s greatest cross dressing movie about a man turning into a house-help to win his wife and child back won both mass and critical acclaim.

Ritesh Deshmukh – Apna Sapna Money Money (2006)

One of the most convincing characters played by Ritesh Deshmukh, his cross dressed avatar Sania was a riot to watch.

Rani Mukherjee – Dil Bole Hadippa (2009)

A woman fighting patriarchy to play cricket in a field dominated by men made for an interesting tale to watch.

Govinda – Aunty No. 1 (1994)

Perhaps India’s favourite aunty, Govinda is a master of perfecting drag performances.

Biswajeet – Kismat (1960)

Remember the evergreen ‘kajra mohabbat wala’? The lead dancer in the song is a young Biswajeet while his heroine plays the guy in it!

Shammi Kapoor – Bluffmaster (1963)

The original in every way.

Amitabh Bachchan – Laawaris (1981)

Remember the classic song, ‘jiski biwi’? Amitabh Bachchan takes the form of a passionate woman crooning away.

Rishi Kapoor – Rafoo Chakkar (1975)

This movie follows two friends who are unwitting witnesses to a murder and change identities to transform into women to escape criminals. What follows is a hysterical same sex romance-drama.

Ashutosh Rana – Sangharsh (1999)

A classic performance in Bollywood history. Ashutosh Rana’s portrayal of a cross-dressing, religious fanatic baying for Preity Zinta’s blood is spine chilling.

Prashant Narayanan – Murder 2 (2011)

A clinically true portrayal of a man imprisoned in his own mind, this movie is a step further than Dushman to chill every last bone in your body.

Sadashiv Amrapurkar- Sadak (1991)

Dubbed as one of the most classic Bollywood drag performances, Sadashiv Amrapurkar is a raging powerhouse.

Sridevi – Mr. India (1987)

Sultry Sridevi pays homage to Charlie Chaplin in a cross-dressing role that is pivotal to her character’s development in the movie.

Saira Banu – Junglee (1961)

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In her debut movie, a scene requires Saira Banu to dress as a sadhu who coerces Shammi Kapoor to make a trip to the snowy mountains.

Madhubala – Raj Hath (1956)

Madhubala plays a princess who enters enemy territory under the guise of a man to retrieve a map essential to her homeland.