Will the real Obama please stand up?

Mumbai, Novermber, 3 : While the city's social climbers get ready to flex their PR muscle for an opportunity to wheeze in the same air as "the most powerful man on the planet", this weekend, cartoonist Hemant Morparia will be busy lending shape and dimension to his 3-D creations in his south Mumbai home.

"I get to work on the sculptures any two-day break I get. Sculpture allows me to think of form instead of words," says the 48-year-old cartoonist, who casts the clay models in resin for permanence. Morparia, who is a radiologist by profession, has been working with clay over the past two years. "I just walked into a hobby store one day and picked up a lump of clay," he says, adding, "I had won prizes during an inter-collegiate youth festival, last."

About the US President Barack Obama's impending visit, Morparia says that he has just one question he would like to ask him, "How did you become President?"

Disillusioned by the leader's smooth-talking ways, the political cartoonist, who is valued for his social critique, says, "He promised change, but he has done nothing for change. He is a good speech-giver, but his speeches don't translate into action."

Though Obama has certainly inspired the sculptor in Morparia, who has created a number of 'smiling-Obama' statues. "Sculptures need an interesting face, as well as faces that are known. If I were to make a sculpture of my father, nobody would recognise it," he says matter-of-factly.

Another 'known' faces that form part of the cartoonist's collection include President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, his wife Carla Bruni, and Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. "I've depicted Manmohan with a thin neck and a big head to show that he is a leader by default. He has not contested a legislative assembly election in his life. He is a Gandhi family loyalist."

Each sculpture, measuring under 18 cm in height, can take Morparia anywhere from 12 to 15 hours to create. "My deadline is intrinsic to the clay," he says. As for his toughest sculpture to date, he says it would have to be Osho Rajneesh. "The eyes are always the toughest. It took me six hours to depict Osho's eyes in a meditative state."

is cartoonist Hemant Morparia's attempt to address the mystery around US president Barack Obama's identity. The green statue is B Hussein Obama (to represent Obama's 'Muslim' identity), the red one is Oba-mao (to address Obama's alleged reputation as a 'socialist', and the blue statue is Oba-maya (to represent Obama's 'minority' identity as a Black person equivalent to the status of Dalits in the country, according to Morparia, and therefore the choice of Dalit 'queen' politician Mayawati). "The 'real' Obama is(depicted) laughing, because maybe he knows that he's a bit of a mystery," says Morparia.


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