Dhanalakshmi Mani Mudaliyar works as a nude model for the last 25 years; Here’s her inspiring tale


India is a country where nudity is still considered a taboo. Even though our ancestors used nudity in sculptures in ancient times, somehow we became more conservative as the years passed by. Do you know that there are a few people who survive on nude modeling? If not, check out this intriguing and inspiring story of Dhanalakshmi Mani Mudaliyar. There was a film made on her life, called Nude.

Dhanalakshmi was born in Madras (now Chennai). She shifted to Mumbai when she was 5 years old. She has five siblings. All of them used to stay at the Mahalakshmi area of Mumbai. Initially, Dhanalakshmi’s family used to earn money by doing small jobs. She used to even beg a few times to survive. Later, the whole family moved to Dharavi. Dhanalakshmi had to stop her education at a young age due to her poverty. She got married at the age of 14. Her husband Mani was 12-14 years older than Dhanalakshmi.

Dhanalakshmi’s husband passed away when she was carrying their second child. When there was no source of income, Dhanalakshmi wondered how to survive. Dhanalakshmi’s friend Rajamma used to work in JJ School of Art. One day, Dhanalakshmi went to JJ School to meet Rajamma. She peeped into a window and saw Rajamma posing stark naked. Dhanalakshmi was shocked. Rajamma shouted at Dhanalakshmi. The latter told Rajamma that she came there to find a job. Then, Rajamma suggested Dhanalakshmi take up this profession. Dhanalakshmi didn’t like the idea. She was not ready for it. At the same time, professors working there asked Rajamma whether Dhanalakshmi would be ready to do the job. Rajamma told yes when Dhanalakshmi was still reluctant. That is how her career of nude modeling began.


Initially, Dhanalakshmi felt a bit shy to pose nude for students. But she got comfortable after a few sessions. Dhanalakshmi gets Rs. 1000 for nude painting and Rs. 400 for saree painting. She is in this profession for the last 25 years. Director Ravi Jadhav made Marathi film Nude based on the life of this inspiring woman.

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