Saturday, December 10, 2016

A different world

Even a rudimentary knowledge of Indian iconography will be enough to know this is representation of Mahavishnu in his form as Padmanabhaswamy - the one with a lotus growing out of his navel - resting on Anantasesha, the divine serpent. Also in the picture are Hanuman, Lakshmi, Siva, Brahma and Narada. This entire tableau is placed above an entrance on Wall Tax Road. 

With so many deities, you might believe that the entrance is to a place of religious significance. In some senses, that might be true, given our penchant for elevating our heroes to god-like levels; but the reality is that once you go past this, you would be entering the fantasy world of the movies. At least, that is how it was until a few years ago. Last year, the posters announced the advent of a multi-storey residential complex, confirming that the Padmanabha has indeed played out its last show, about 5 years ago.

Padmanabha Theatre began life as the Regal; does this tableau go back to those days, when it was placed to bring good luck, or did it come up after (possibly) a change of ownership and name, with the new owner trying to ensure that the re-branding sticks, with this visual representation? If the latter, it couldn't have been too successful - even today, the MTC bus routes indicate this stage as 'Regal'!

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