With clay and plaster of Paris strewn around and the radio humming on a low volume, Thakurdwar-based murtikar (idol-artist) Pradeep Madhuskar, has not had the time to take a lunch break over the last two weeks. With more than 25 small-sized Ganesh idols waiting in line to be coloured and another couple of eco-friendly idols drying in the sun, Madhuskar and his team of 15 murtikars have converted their workshop into their temporary home in Kalbadevi.
“Though work began during Dusshera last year, the last few days before the Ganesh festival make all the difference,” said Madhuskar, who specialises in creating Ganpati idols placed at homes. Like Madhuskar, other city-based murtikars have been working over-time to add finishing touches to the idols.
At a workshop near Parel railway station, Sushma Berde and her team of jewellery designers have been spending hours mixing and matching precious stones and metal. “We have to first survey the mandals and check the colour of the set design and the idol’s attire. Based on the colours, we work out our combinations,” said Berde, who will be adorning the Khetwadi ka Raja (12 feet) and Borivli ka Raja (8 feet) this year, besides 45 other home ganpati idols. “We get the stones and crystals from wholesalers in Pydhonie and Bhuleshwar and work in tandem with idol-makers. Designing the jewellery and ensuring a perfect fit is a gratifying experience,” added Berde.
Berde has been working closely with murtikar Vijay Khatu, who is creating the city’s tallest Ganpati idol this year at Ganesh Galli (22 feet) in Parel. “We were given a brief about the theme of the pandal this year and based on those specifications, we came up with the concept of the idol,” said Khatu. “There are around 200 home ganpatis being crafted in my workshop right now,” he added. Just a few metres away, Santosh Kambli and his father, Ratnakar Kambli have been adding final touches to the King of the city, the Lalbaugcha Raja. “For 78 years, we haven’t changed the expression of the murtis we create in our workshop,” said Santosh.