7 May 2011

Link Road, Kandivli

Ulka Gupta, the new face of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi

Historical Facebook.

Indian gods and historical figures have faces that evolve according to the age we live in. Today, we have pasted the faces of television actors to these figures. A generation back it was the Amar Chitra Katha comics. Before that it was cinema (Example: Sohrab Modi, NTR, Dr Raj, Prithviraj Kapoor, and yes, 'Shivaji' Ganesan)

There was a time when all Baby Krishna and Murugan images looked like the child actor Baby Sridevi who grew up to have thunder thighs and sculpted nose like the Darpana Sundaris in the Hoysala temples of Karnataka.

This was preceded by Raja Ravi Varma and his paintings alongside actors on stage. Every state had its own set of mythological and historical theater.

And for a long time before that, it was the faces and figures carved out of stone and in miniature paintings. If you visit the older temples, you will need a guide to point out the different mythological figures. They have changes so much over the past century that we need to look for clues to figure out one god from another.

Over time, the dark Vishnu avataars became blue. A colour that even made it to the big screen. And during the transition to the small screen, the blue became fair and handsome. The grand old defender of patriarchy, King Rama of Ayodhya got a white, expressionless face fit for the headman of a Khap Panchayat. The intelligent Krishna got a fair, low IQ face and zero votes from women when he stood for elections. Draupadi became fair. The fiery Shiva now uses Gilette 3 blade system to have a baby-bottom-smooth face. The Lord Ganesha is rumoured to have chopped of his elephant head along with that of Ramanand Sagar and gang after seeing the atrocious Ganeshas on our television screens.

And on television, Rani of Jhansi whom we knew only as a woman warrior on horseback with her son tied to her back became a little girl. The new face of Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi is that of Ulka Gupta.

Read more about her and other child actors on Indian Television in this week's Tehelka by Nishita Jha titled: Sets, lie and homework.

Here are few extras shots from the life of the new face of Laxmibai of Jhansi.

Bend it like Laxmibai. Ulka (14 yrs) is a fighter too. She's the only girl in a football team.

I couldn't indulge in my favourite activity of browsing through what she reads because she had no books on her shelves, just a lot of awards.

Where Ulka lives.

The Guptas moved from Dahisar to Link Road, the Sunset Boulevard for Bollywood workers after her success. This is where, most people associated with television, music and Bollywood live. You have offices, studios, recording studios, the social network of strugglers, money and lots of interesting people related to entertainment on this stretch.

Mumbai's Sunset Boulevard is a collection of Link Roads. They run parallel to the WR track from Kandivli to Juhu. The stretch from Kandivli/Malad (Mith Chowky) to Oshiwara is a favourite place for television workers.

Another Link road connects the place where the filmi people live - Mhada, Yari Road, 4/7 Bungalows, Versova to Juhu.

The biggest stars live in Juhu. Amitabh lives there. Ulka lives in the other end, at Kandivli. But then, she's just started. As you climb up the ladder, you move south. All the best Laxmibai Ulka! Go ahead and conquer Bollywood.

Note: Ulka meaning - Shooting Star or meteor.


Curry Spice said...

such a spirited post!

Slogan Murugan aka M S Gopal said...

It's actually a long copy ad for the article in Tehelka. :)

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