Watch: Madame Tussauds has competition. It’s Bengaluru


Chitrakala Parishat artiste uses 50 A3 photos to sculpt a life-like figure of a deceased woman from Koppal; husband wanted her in the new house he built in her memory

It takes around 20 skilled artists and elaborate measurements to create a life-like wax figure at London’s Madame Tussauds. But back home, along with three to four workers, a sculptor in Bengaluru saw 50 A-3 size photos as reference to sculpt a model of Srinivas Gupta’s deceased wife, KVN Madhavi.

During a housewarming ceremony in Koppal on August 8, many guests were surprised to see her statue seated next to Gupta while he was performing

religious rituals. In fact, the sculpture looked so real that many were surprised to see ‘Madhavi’ sitting there.



Coping mechanism

Gupta had always wanted his wife to be present when her dream house was ready. But Dr Naveen, a psychiatrist based out of Whitefield, said creating a statue can also be a way of processing grief. “Grief is a complex phenomenon and every individual goes through the process in a different way. Keeping a portrait or photos might help in coping with acute grief. We go through normal stages of grief like denial, anger, bargain, depression and finally, acceptance. But sometimes, people can get stuck in any one of the stages for longer periods. It is called pathological grief. Normally, it takes roughly six months to one year for grief to get resolved completely.” He said a lot of factors govern coping with the grief. “Some animal lovers preserve their pets through the process called Taxidermy. Wax statue may be a good substitute to immortalise our loved ones. Human history also bears witness to various types of mummification. All these activities ultimately symbolise the process of grief,” says Dr Naveen.

Increasing demand for life-like statues

In fact, Gupta is not alone as many people are now going for wax or silicone rubber statues of their loved ones in their homes. A sculptor told Bangalore Mirror that there is a growing demand for these statues in the city as a lot of enquiries pour in every now and then. Sridhar Murthy, the man behind Madhavi’s figure and a sculptor from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, said, “I have created at least three wax and two silicone rubber statues. Recently, I met a person who was missing his mother and wanted to have her statue made and so, we kept his request.” According to him, the videos of the Madame Tussauds have inspired people to go for such statues at home. He said the latest technology was silicone rubber, which costs almost similar to a wax statue — Rs 3.5 lakh — but the materials have to be imported from foreign countries. “The texture, skin colour, face and every other feature looks so real and hence, there is a growing demand for these,” added another sculptor.

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From Koppal to B’luru and back Gupta, 57, who is in the business of exporting human hair, said his wife had taken a keen interest in constructing a house by drawing up the design. However, she died in a road accident in July 2017. As Gupta could not overcome the grief, his house architect suggested him to come up with a wax statue of hers and keep it at home. Gupta soon headed to Bengaluru to meet Murthy, who said Koppal has a dry, hot climate and is not suitable for wax statues. Murthy added, “This was around the same time when we were doing a lot of research on silicone rubber. So, I told him that if our research was successful, then we would go ahead with the statue.”

The wait was longer as it took more than a year for the statue to be complete. Unlike wax statues for living persons, it was a challenge to make one for someone who is not there anymore. So, Murthy asked for as many photos as possible and based on that, they created a 3D model and started working on it. No 3D printing was used. Once the statue was ready, a saree was wrapped around it and the total weight was around 15 kg. Gupta personally drove to Bengaluru to get the statue back home. The statue was placed in the rear seat with the seat belt on and travelled 354 km to reach Koppal.

Gupta said he has created a special place in his house courtyard to keep her wife’s replica so that he can see her daily. They say, love is forever, and in this case, it stands true.



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Sagar Biswas

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