A middle-aged man, wearing a red turban and a shy smile, stands awkwardly next to Madhubala, the glint in his eyes suggests that he is half believing himself to be Salim of Mughal-e-Azam; Madhubala only seems glad about it. Not very far away, a lady in her 40s has her arms around Ranbir Kapoor. She giggles like a teenager, and poses with the ease of one too; not that Kapoor cares. At a little distance an elderly couple climbs on to a glittery rickshaw, grinning ear to ear, and why not? Their rickshaw, after all, is being pulled by none other than Salman Khan.
Walking into the newly opened Madame Tussauds is like walking into a dream – only this dream is real.
“You can touch and feel everything here. You can use the props, pose with the figures and interact with them. Nothing at Madam Tussuads is out of bounds for the visitors.” Vikas, a staff member tells me as I look amusingly at what is going on around me. Getting close to the world famous wax figures of Tussads is not easy though – they are so realistic that you worry about them being offended by intrusion. Take Ranbir Kapoor for example, whose eyes seem to be looking at you or Anil Kapoor for that matter, who, it seems, will jump out of his chair any minute.
“Go on, touch him!” Prods Soumya, the representative of Tussads who is taking me around, even as I step away in shyness and embarrassment. It is only after much persuasion, and looking at other visitors interacting with statues that I gather the courage to gently stroke Kapoor’s face.
While Bollywood rules the roost at Madam Tussauds, Delhi. Sports, Politics, Music and Hollywood are some other fields from which the icons are brought in. The center is divided into three major sections and celebrities are sometimes moved around too.
By the time visitors reach the sports section, you can see them getting more comfortable with the surroundings. Some pose with the celebrities, some copy their stance; most click selfies, and many begin playing around with the props. Trophies, medals, cricket bats, boxing gloves, wigs, gowns, glasses, helmets, all are put to good use here.
If the sports section, with celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar, Milkha Singh, David Beckham, Usain Bolt, Kapil Dev and many others, is popular with the young, the section with political leaders is buzzing with the elderly. Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Sardar Patel, and Narendra Modi see long queues on weekends I am told.
Presently Modi seems to be most popular though with everyone in the room queuing for pictures with him. Patel is next in line, sitting majestically on the floor with a teak desk, he has a vacant seat next to him for whoever wants a lesson in politics – many seem to be interested.
A long alley leads to the music scene. Michael Jackson and Madonna greet you backstage, perhaps trying to escape the paparazzi, but it is the next section that will make your heart skip a beat.
The music section is bright and upbeat with disco lights and chart toppers. Some visitors can be seen humming along, moving to the rhythm slowly, while Beyonce shimmers in a dazzling blue dress in the middle of the room with a mic in her hand and her long hair spiraling down her waist, a lady discreetly runs her fingers through it and smiles.
Lady Gaga’s headgear gleams in red, and Jennifer Lopez glitters in gold. There is Beiber too, with his platinum blond side parted hair, infamous with the staff for dozens of lipstick marks that he gathers daily.
Interestingly there is an entire team of experts that touch up the figures every morning. “We, at Madame Tussauds are very clear that we want our visitors to have a good time.” Says Sabia Gulati, the Marketing Head of Madame Tussauds in India. “We are therefore prepared for some amount of damage. We are very clear that we are not a museum but an experience center, we want our guests to have a superlative experience here.”
Looking at visitors sprawled on the sofa next to Will Smith and clinking champagne glasses with Nicole Kidman there is no doubt that Madame Tussauds is already giving its guests a once in a lifetime experience.
The Madame Tussauds, Delhi is located in the heart of Delhi, in the Regal building. Ir is is easily accessible.by personal and public transport. There is a discount on group and online bookings and children’s ticket comes with a discount.
You can log on to their website, or walk in to experience the magic of Tussauds that’s been enchanting the world for over 150 years.
Note: A version of this post first appeared in The Hindu.