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Friday, June 10, 2011

M.F.Hussain Dead But The Controversy Remains


I am not an art lover, let alone being a fanatic of short which many in India are seems to be. The knowledge of mine on art and artists has got some close resemblance to the knowledge of Indian vocabulary of a Japanese tourist in Bihar. So the gist is, I am not here to write about the magnanimity of M.F.Hussain as an artist and how big an international artistic figure he was. When people from various walks of life (with or without the knowledge of art) hail Hussain Sahib as the finest artist India has ever produced and coining him as the Picasso of India, without knowing who the hell this Picasso chap was; then he ought to be one and I don’t dispute that. If Prativa Devising Patil is to be taken seriously for once, then the demise of Hussain Sahib left a big irreparable void in the art world. I am not going to dispute our President’s words either, even after being doubly sure on the knowledge bank of her Excellency in the know-how of art or for that matter anything other than opening fraudulent co-operative banks.

May his soul rest in peace after a prolonged life, full with struggle and unwanted controversies. He may be a great artist as many say but that no way means I will feel the void that the whole of Indian media forced me to feel yesterday. For me the void comes with acquaintance, either physical or mental, which I never had with Hussain Sahib. And certainly the media can’t and most importantly must not force that void down my throat with that unspoken threat – ‘How the hell you are not feeling the void? Hell with your bloody acquaintance. Just feel it or pretend you are feeling it or else our .25mm Grater would take care of the rest’. This is nonsense. Have I got any right to feel the void as and when I feel like or I have lost that along with my right to protest at the Ramlila ground? The sudden demise of that beggar of my street who used to come to my place every Sunday to join us for a good Sunday lunch is a bigger void than Hussain Sahib’s death. I am in no way trying to trivialize the matter of death or insult the so called fans of Hussain Sahib, who out of nowhere became fan and admirer of the artist as they found majority of their cocktail or kitty party buddies are. I have a right to my opinion and hope none should dispute that, much the same way I am not disputing when people say he was a great artist, fine and jovial human being and most important a man who loved his nation much more than the rest of the populace combined.

If I remember, the interview I saw of Hussain Sahib with Times-Now, I never felt he was missing his motherland at all. My apologies to Sobha Dey, e.t all who feel he was just keeping a jolly face while within he was missing India and some Mumbai bloody Faluda, as much as Lalu Yadav is currently missing power at center or that railway ministry. I’m sorry to say I am no Nostradamus to know what one is feeling within and I am going by the face value. From the face value he didn’t looked an ounce in depression for not being able to return back to his country. Now the argument is given that neither Hussain Sahib liked staying out of India nor he was too keen to comeback. What does that mean? If you don’t like to stay outside then come back to your country; if you are not too keen to come back then stay where you are. Why these heavyweight and complicated philosophical statements which is only for people with Nobel laureates IQ to understand. To put it on a simpler term - A person who claims to love his country more than his life would never insult his countrymen for sure. A good example could be a certain Khaled Hosseini. No matter what, I never saw him insulting his countrymen back home in Afghanistan, even when it comes to the Talibans or the Mujahedeens.

The misery of Hussain Sahib staying outside and dyeing outside is blamed upon a set of religious fanatics who went on a rampage post some controversial drawings of the artist and ended up burning many of his paintings and filing around 900 criminal cases at various parts of India. Along with the religious jokers the then Congress government is equally blamed for not doing enough to guarantee Hussain Sahib some kind of safety. With all fairness, all were blamed except the person who seems to be the orator of the mess; Hussain Sahib himself.

Having seen the society from close quarters, both pre and post-independence era, Hussain Sahib must have realized how intolerant a society we are when it deals with religion; more so when he himself belongs to a community who are least of a tolerant lot when it comes to their religion and religious figures. Creativity is one thing but hurting the sentiments of even one person with your creativity is plain absurdity. Disrespecting any individual or his religion and belief is not what creativity is; it is an outright crime. If you can’t do it to yourself and you feel it would be insulting then you shouldn’t try this on others as it also would hurt them. If you think somebody drawing the cartoons of Prophet Mohammad is a serious crime as it maligned your religion and faith and you revolt at once and even plan terror attacks on the newspaper office headquarters then you should refrain yourselves from insulting other religions as well. If you guys have legitimacy in feeling aggrieved for the cartoons then others have got all right to feel annoyed when they see nonsensical nude drawings of their Gods and Goddesses. And none should try to be clever by half and bring along some creativity nonsense in-between. If drawing Hindu Gods and Goddesses is an example of creativity then the cartoons of Prophet drawn by a Danish cartoonist is no less creative either. So why this big fuss? Without beating around the bush, should the supporters of Hussain Sahib confirm – Could he possibly have drawn such derogatory and insinuating pictures of Prophet and still be able to live even another hour to ponder at his drawings? Perhaps not, provided he would have drawn them at the first place. In the same equation Hussain Sahib must be rather thankful that he doesn’t had to pay by his life (if he had drawn Prophet in any manner) for his mistakes but just been hounded out of the country. None should talk big about Freedom of expression, whose veracity we have already seen at the Ramlila ground. Freedom of expression has a limit and in the name of that none should start insulting millions and their sentiments and beliefs which they probably would be holding in high esteem.

If we are so serious about Freedom of expression or artistic creativity; then why fatwas against Salman Rushdie or Tasleema Nasrin? Weren’t they also artistically creative? Where the Freedom of expression of these two writers gone there? Wasn’t Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist showing his artistic creativity through his cartoons of the Prophet? Why not encourage and appreciate his creativity but plan and plot to blow his head by hurling some grenades? If someone just wants to pick on a religion, race or sect just because they do not retaliate as violently as someone else, you cannot call it true Freedom of expression. At least, not in my dictionary.

So there can’t be a separate set of rules. Getting aggrieved shouldn’t be a proprietary of a particular community. If you guys are so intolerant to anyone acting against your religion then why shouldn’t others be? And none of the pseudo seculars should mix heavy words like immature, intolerant, creativity or any of that nonsense into this as if all these attributes are only the lookout and responsibilities of Hindu community to exercise. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction and Hussain Sahib learnt it the hard way. I don’t know about others, but I felt offended by such so called idiotic creativity of Hussain Sahib and I don’t see a reason why I shouldn’t. No wonder people took to the streets in protest and rest as they say is history. Hence the bottom-line - you can’t screw up big time with your actions but when it comes to weather the reaction, you cry foul. In nutshell - You can’t have your Samosha and eat it too.

Controversy or no controversy, Hussain Sahib would remain a bright star on the sky of Indian contemporary modern art. No doubt what so ever on that. But to announce, people were entirely at fault post his nude drawings just because he is a great artist and put the blame squarely on them is little na├»ve, or should I say a little VOTEBANKISH? Our so called intellectuals might have some other views and it is Ok, as everybody is privy to his/her own. For me, intellectuality doesn’t come with playing ostrich, which majority of our media houses are doing for some time. Everyone should get this straight - The Danish cartoonist was at fault when he drew Prophet in a wrong way; and so as M.F.Hussain when he dared to draw Hindu Gods and Goddesses nude. The punishment thrust upon him, directly or indirectly is entirely justified. Let’s accept it for once and consider this a close chapter as in, the death of Hussain Sahib has brought about an end to an entire era. May Allah give peace to his soul. Ameen!!

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