NOIDA, INDIA, January 9, 2017 (The National): Outside their workshop, a raucous debate rages on whether India should spend half-a-billion dollars on a statue to honor a 17th century Hindu warrior. Inside, the two men sculpting the bronze figure work in silence in their vast, high-ceilinged studio outside New Delhi. "Is there a controversy about it?" asks Anil Sutar, 59, sitting in the adjoining office, looking surprised. "We don't pay any attention to politics. We just get on with our work."
Anil and his father Ram are the sculptors in the eye of the storm. Ram is the famous one. At 92, he still works eight hours a day, is totally alert, and has a face that looks 15 years younger. Apart from a recent knee replacement, he is in great physical condition. His son Anil returned from his studies in architecture and urban design in the US in 1994 to join his father who is the sculptor to whom state governments and politicians turn when they want to build a larger-than-life statue to honor a figure in the Indian pantheon.
The father and son are thrilled by the Shivaji project. At 688 feet, the Shivaji statue off the Mumbai coast will be twice the height of the Statue of Liberty. The statue will sit atop a 22-story building housing a museum, library, auditorium, cafes and shops. Six lifts will take visitors through the body of a horse up to Shivaji's chest where there will be viewing windows for them to look across the Arabian Sea and the Mumbai skyline. Another monumental statue which they are halfway to completing is that of Vallabhbhai Patel, an important figure in the Indian freedom movement and India's first home minister after Independence. That statue will be just a few metres smaller than Shivaji.