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.

Marwar - - Culture - Text Arund­hati Chat­ter­jee

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

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