Dad no more, but can’t let his legacy die, says daughter of man who gave Mumbai huge Ganpati idols
Reshma Khatu, 32, drops her four-and-a-half year old son to school early, before heading to a Ganpati idol-making unit at Parel’s railway workshop.
She then takes a break around 11 am to pick up her son and drop him off at her mother’s house. At 1.30 pm, she is back at work, spending the rest of her day there.
Her routine may seem like that of any other working woman, except that she is making inroads into an industry that has long been male-dominated.
As the daughter of the late Vijay Khatu, a famous idol-maker who died last month, she believes she has the skills to be a sculptor.
“I want to be known as a murtikar (idol maker), not as someone who handles the Khatu workshop. Though I never worked with my father, I have his genes, and have learnt a lot from him. This is why I can complete the work he left unfinished,” said Reshma.
She initially pursued a course in filmmaking from Rachna Sansad in Prabhadevi, but now guides workers to craft idols as high as 12-foot-tall.
Is she living a life different from what she had envisioned?
“I would have been a film director. However, now I direct workers to make pieces of art. So, my life really isn’t that different. Had my father been here, he would have been shocked as I would refuse to enter the workshop earlier,” she said.
What changed? Reshma said she refused to attend functions at which her father was honoured, which led him to tell her that she did not respect his work.
However, after his death, she saw the name and respect her father had earned for himself and her perception of him changed.
“Various mandals told me they would get their idols from this workshop every year. They trust me only because of my father. I can’t let him down,” says Reshma.
Surprisingly, Reshma doesn’t attribute her change of profession to faith in God.
“I’m not really an atheist, but at the same time, I don’t really believe in God. I revere my father, because we are sculptors. God made us, and in turn, we make God. I have a lot of respect for the mandals, their devotion and belief in God,” Reshma said.
How does she deal with the belief that menstruating women should not touch idols?
“The women of our country should not be hindered by stigma,” said Reshma.
“However, as I am working for the mandals, I have to take their beliefs into account. I have thus decided to refrain from working during my period,” she said.
(With inputs from Shasta Kaul)
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