Friday, 10 June 2011


The newspapers,the news channels and the internet are abuzz with news on M.F.Hussains death.Some chose to highlight his work,some remembered his special association with Kolkata(specially Azad Hind Dhaba),some shed a tear or two on the tragic life of the legendary artist.They're armed with every single detail of HIS life.I surely don't have any more fact to offer.I'm an absolutely ordinary middle class girl.I've never met him in person,I don't own any of his works(not even their copies),I've not even watched all of his movies.I don't understand art and if you ask me to remember the name of a few contemporary artists,my mind'll probably draw a blank.But my first memory of M.F.Hussain dates back to 1996 when I,then a six-year old,kept wondering why people should be upset with an artist for making a nude painting of Saraswati.Thanks to HBO and Star Movies,I had already watched enough Hollywood movies to know that nude painting should be respected as a form of art and nothing else.Then,out of curiosity,I read a little about his childhood,his obsession with Madhuri Dixit and his love for contemporary art.Before I could realize,I was hooked.I don't remember how many lazy afternoons I've spent staring at a photograph of his from a newspaper article.I always found Budhdha and Jesus in him.To me,he always seemed to be a good man with a passion who was hugely misunderstood.When I was a little older,I asked my father what a terrorist was.He told me that they're some muslim extremists who wanted to harm the innocent common people in the name of 'zihad'.I asked him,"And what do we call the people who tried to kill M.F.Hussain?Aren't they terrorists?"He had no answer.I believe,though he didn't totally support what had happened with Hussain,he wasn't fond of nude paintings of Saraswati too.He managed to excuse himself saying something vague like "it's better not to play with controversial ideas.There're many inspirations for an artist worldwide-the nature and its elements,the great people,the historical personalities and what not.Why land yourself in trouble with delicate issues?".Many years have passed since then.What I've not understood is how we,Indians claim ourselves any different from countries like Egypt,Afghanistan,Pakistan or any Arab countries.Is it because they don't tolerate anything against Islam and we do the same with Hindutva?Hey,people,the religion is different,you see!Besides,we just threaten people,we don't flog them.Nor do we plant explosives.We're civilized and tolerant.I'm proud to be an Indian but at the same time,I'm ashamed to be the part of a country that didn't value its own talents and tried to oppress them in every possible way until they were tired of fighting to save their creative soul and either gave up or went into exile.Be it Taslima Nasreen or M.F.Hussain or Salman Rushdie,it's the same story everywhere.So,on the death of M.F.Hussain,I don't know how I should react.Should I be sad that his last wish of coming to his 'beloved Bombay'  couldn't be fulfilled?Should I be ashamed that we gave in to the power of communal activists and failed to make 'our Hussain' 'our Hussain'?Should I be happy that if India didn't recognise him,the rest of the world did?Should I console myself that maybe if it hadn't happened,he won't have been as famous as he is now?Because,come on,we all know that nothing glorifies an artist's life like a tragedy.Pain enhances their creativity.I don't know because I'm too busy making 'politically correct' statements so that I don't have to face 'fatwas' from either muslim clerics or hindu right-wing activists.And yes,make no mistake,I still live in a 'free country.'

1 comment:

  1. every artist should have freedom of expression in any form... that's why art for art's sake theory becomes popular.. but it's our limitations that we can't dissociate art from conventional ideas and morality..