Is Madame Tussauds using Bollywood to make money?

By Devansh Patel, Bollywood Hungama News Network

Just as you thought that the Bharat Ratna nominations controversy was about to settle, here comes another one. There’s no doubt about the fact that Bollywood is the world's biggest film industry. Also, that the world's biggest democratic country happens to be India, the domain of Bollywood! But, what is shocking, is that in spite of all this, there are only six wax figures from India in all, at the London's famous Madame Tussauds museum, of which four are Bollywood stars. Does that mean Bollywood is finally accepted in the overseas market? Or is this just a mere commercial scam? Devansh Patel unveils the story.

Ok, let's accept it now. Bollywood is the world's biggest film industry, and ever since the Shilpa Shetty - Jade fiasco happened, the name 'Bollywood' has become even more prominent. But I'm not debating whether Bollywood is big or small, known or unknown and heard or not heard. Bollywood celebrities have now become permanent visitors of the London's Madame Tussauds – Amitabh Bachchan was the first in 2000, the Bachchan daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai joined him four years later and just last year, it was Shah Rukh Khan who had his wax work installed. And the dawn of January 15, 2008, saw actor Salman Khan joining this stellar company. With Bollywood's latest entry at the wax museum, one just wonders whether there might soon be a Bollywood corner or even a whole floor for stars from the Hindi film industry at Madame Tussauds. And going by the crowds that these Bollywood stars draw, this might just be sooner than later.

But I still question myself as to why did Madame Tussauds take so long in deciding whether or not Bollywood should be a part of their museum? Well, I then think, that some questions are better left unanswered. All of the four featured stars here are famous globally. The world knows ‘him’ as the Bollywood legend, he is Amitabh Bachchan. Everyone knows ‘her’ as the most beautiful woman in the world, she is Aishwarya Rai. He is known to be the ‘King of Bollywood’ who can attract more fans than Tom Cruise can, he is Shah Rukh Khan. And lastly, his fans rate him ‘the most eligible bachelor’ in Bollywood, he is Salman Khan. There is also a point that needs to be noted here that all of the four replicas have a Hollywood connection too. Amitabh Bachchan, as we all know, was voted the ‘Superstar of the Millennium’ in a BBC poll, many years ago, leaving behind the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, etc. Do I still need to prove Mr. Bachchan's popularity around the globe? Next up is Aishwarya Rai. She won the ‘Miss World’ title in 1994 and hence, half the battle was won here itself. She further proved her mettle by being an actor in Hindi films and then there was no looking back. Currently, she has just finished filming Pink Panther in the U.S with co-stars Andy Garcia and Steve Martin! Richard Gere once said, "Shah Rukh Khan is one actor who I think can surely act in Hollywood films. He has the potential to cross over." And don't be surprised if you see him in L.A. in the near future. Last, but not the least, Salman Khan, who has acted in his first Hollywood production Marigold, is now the fourth Bollywood star to grace the Madame Tussauds, yet again, with a Hollywood connection.

Yes! In 2007, Salman Khan acted as the lead actor in his debut Hollywood production called Marigold with co-star Ali Larter. That set a benchmark in the Indian Film Industry. If I start the list of Bollywood actors who deserve to be a part of the museum, the Tussauds Group might just have to build a new museum for them!

Unfortunately, however, besides the above-mentioned actors, there are only two names - Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi from India, whose wax replicas are placed in Madame Tussauds and who are not a part of Bollywood.

Have you heard the names - Sachin Tendulkar, Noble prize winner in Economics -Amartya Sen, World Chess Champion Vishwanathan Anand, Tennis champions Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati, industrialists like Ratan Tata, Lakshmi Mittal and the late Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani? These are just a few of the many names whose wax statues, I feel, should be made. Being a Bollywood correspondent, I am proud of the fact that Indian films are now being accepted in the West but what about the names other than the Bollywood celebs who have made India and the Indians across the globe proud?

If you look back at the last five to six years, marketing has taken over (read ‘stormed its way in’) big time. Anything and everything has become commercialized. Ben Lovett of Madame Tussauds recently said, "The Asian market is critical to our attraction and our association with Bollywood, particularly the launch of Shah Rukh Khan, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Asians, from both the UK and abroad, visiting and enjoying Madame Tussauds. We hope to build upon this exciting relationship, with the unveiling of Salman." So does it mean that by merely putting Bollywood celebrities in wax, Tussauds attracts a lot of Asian attention, which in turn earns them more profit since Asians are the second in the list of visitors who throng the museum? And why only Bollywood celebrities?

We at Bollywood Hungama are looking for your answers, which will make a difference. We want to hear what you have to say, about whether or not Bollywood is just used as a tool to pull the crowd, whether or not India’s well known faces deserve a place in the museum or is this just a commercial scam. Write in to us.

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