Abdul Aziz, 54, has been working as a living statue for 32 years, and no one has been successful in making him move or smile, while he stands still at an amusement park in Tamil Nadu.
Aziz, fondly known as “India’s Statue Man”, has been performing his daily routine ever since 1985, soon after getting a job as a security guard at the VGP Golden Beach Resort in Chennai, India. His boss had recently travelled to the UK, where he was so impressed by the statue-like members of the Royal Guard outside Buckingham Palace that he wanted to do something similar back home.
So he had his security guards undergo three months of training, where they would sit perfectly still for around four hours. They weren’t allowed to talk or smile, eat, drink, or even shoo away a fly if it sat on their faces. In the end, Abdul proved the best of the group, so he got the strange job.
Speaking to a Magazine on how he felt at that time, he said, “Initially, I didn’t like the idea, but I didn’t have the courage to say no to my employer as I didn’t want to be without a job. That’s how I landed this job.”
Abdul Aziz isn’t the only person in the world posing as a living statue, but what makes him special is the fact that he can do it for as long as six hours without even blinking an eyelid, despite people’s constant attempts to make him reveal his humanity. They make faces in front of him, tell all kinds of jokes or try to scare him to get the smallest reaction, but so far no one has been able to do it.
At one point, the VGP Golden Beach Resort became so confident in Abdul’s ability to pose as a living statue that they put up a 10,000 rupee ($155) prize for anyone who can make him move a muscle. That made his job a lot more difficult, as to some Indians $155 is a monthly salary, but try as they might, no one has ever succeeded in getting the smallest reaction from the Statue Man. Some kids will sometimes try to poke and prod him to make him move, but, luckily, he has security guards nearby who come to his aid.
“Standing like a statue for hours might look easy, but it is a very difficult and demanding job,” Abdul says. “When I started the job, I was full of vigour and energy. But, now over the years, I have come to know the stress involved, which is affecting my health. Standing still for hours has started to affect my blood circulation.”
So how does posing as a statue pay? Not very well, it turns out. Aziz earns about 10,000 rupees a month, which is enough to support his family, but definitely not enough to encourage his children to follow in his footsteps. It’s just too stressful and taxing on the body.
The 54-year-old is thinking of retiring soon, and he has already started training someone to take his place. Out of 5 candidates, only one has proven to have what it takes to succeed the world’s best living statue, and he is now learning the nuances of the job.
“Despite all the hardship and health problems, I love my job and I am thankful to people for the love and respect they have showered on me,” the Statue Man says. “When the time comes, I want to die playing a statue.”