Saturday, April 18, 2009


The curtains opened, and there was Sachin Tendulkar, helmet in one hand and bat in the other, looking heavenwards. Beside him stood Sachin Tendulkar, in the same iconic pose. The only difference between the two Sachins was the recent stubble on the face of one. "Thank God he doesn't breathe," said this Sachin, and we knew that the clean-shaven one was his wax replica, painstakingly crafted by Madame Tussaud's team of 20 artisans over four long months.

Coming face-to-face with a three-dimensional replica of yourself "can be an unnerving experience," says Liz Edwards, spokesperson for Madame Tussauds. Sachin, introduced to his wax replica only moments before the public launch, didn't really have much time to compose himself.

For India, Sachin's waxwork is important. He's the first sport star from the country to be chosen by the 200-year-old tourist attraction, and only the fifth contemporary Indian after Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, to find a home under that famous green dome in London's Baker Street.
But that is not all. It was the first figure that was unveiled outside a Madame Tussaud's attraction. The organisers wanted to cash in on the IPL craze, which could be the reason why the statue was unveiled in Mumbai. It will be placed in the museum in London later in April, around the time when Sachin celebrates his 36th birthday.

"We launch eight new personalities to our attraction every year," said Liz. Sachin is in the company of newcomers Barack Obama, Louis Hamilton, the new Mayor of London and a new Britney Spears.
"Sachin is a legend after becoming the highest scoring Test cricketer. And visitors have been clamouring to see his figure," said Liz.
"We try for a snapshot in time, because people are constantly changing their looks. The Queen, for instance, has had four sittings with us over the years," Liz explained.

It takes four months to create a waxwork, starting with the sittings, where hundreds of pictures are taken. The hair is ethically sourced and each strand inserted individually. To get the right skin tone, 20 layers of acrylic paint are applied in a stippled fashion. Thin red silk is used to give the capillary tone to the eyes.
Despite all this, the result is not always satisfactory. "When Aishwarya's figure was unveiled, we realised it wasn't a perfect match, the complexion specially. With non-UK celebrities, we cannot get them over mid way through production for a check," admitted Liz.