HALL OF FAME
Housed inside the imposing Nahargarh Fort, the newly opened Jaipur Wax Museum brings Rajasthan’s royals and personalities from the fields of history, cinema, sports, literature and culture under one roof.
The year was 2006. The Pink City Film Festival was being organised in Jaipur, Rajasthan. But this year was going to be special. At the event, the then 35-year-old Anoop Srivastava installed a wax figure of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan. The founder-director of Entertainment 7 Creative Ventures Pvt Ltd claimed it was the first wax figure to be made in India. It was on display at the venue for 10 days and received a positive response from all quarters.
It was at this moment when an idea struck him like a bolt out of the blue: let’s make our own version of Madame Tussauds. But the dream was larger-thanlife and his resources, limited. Yet he did not give up. A decade later, Srivastava’s dream saw the light of day when the Jaipur Wax Museum opened to the public in December 2016.
Dream come true
Internationally, wax museums have been around for centuries. While the museum at the Westminster Abbey in London had a collection of wax effigies of British royal including that of Edward III of England (he died in 1377), the first permanent exhibition of the renowned Madame Tussauds was established in 1835 at London’s Baker Street. Since then, several others have mushroomed across the globe, drawing millions of tourists annually.
Taking cue, a number of wax museums have also cropped up across the country– Mysore’s Melody World Wax Museum, Kolkata’s Mother’s Wax Museum and Lonavala’s Celebrity Wax Museum, to name a few. One may think that the Jaipur Wax Museum is just another addition to the list, but Srivastava says it isn’t the case.
The Jaipur Wax Museum is probably the first wax museum to be situated inside a heritage site: the imposing Nahargarh Fort, which is perched on the edge of the Aravalli Range. From the time the property was acquired from the Government of Rajasthan’s Archaeology Department to when the first blocks were established, it took a mere nine months for the museum to be set up. A number of artists were involved in the making of the wax-silicone figures and the team was headed by veteran sculptor Susanta Ray and Srivastava. Most of the wax figures were made in Asansol, West Bengal.
“Our creative team decided on the personalities who would be featured in the first phase. The decision was unanimous and included names such as late APJ Abdul Kalam (former President of India), Rabindranath Tagore (poet-playwright), Kalpana Chawla (astronaut) and so on. Now we have an online opinion poll and are also asking visitors to name icons who they would like to see next in the museum. Currently, Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s statue is in the making process,” explains Srivastava.
Top: A wax figure of Mahatma Gandhi with the Dandi March as the backdrop
Right: A wax statue of former President APJ Abdul Kalam at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Facing page: A wax figure of HH Rajmata Gayatri Devi