The papers screamed out 'India's Picasso dies in exile'. And if the headlines weren't enough, the life and times of M F Husain were covered in vivid detail in the inner pages. All along, in my opinion, underscoring the very hypocrisy that defines us! Harsh? Yes. But true.
To be honest, I didn't really know about the whole controversy. I did know that MFH was involved in a 'nude painting' row that involved Hindu goddesses, but I didn't know about the quasi fatwa issued against him by Hindu factions, and I definitely did not know that these Hindu factions were epitomized by the 'holier than thou' entity who runs Mumbai as his fiefdom, who has taken the responsibility of safeguarding 'Indian culture and moral values' even if means of safeguarding involved vandalism and mindless rioting and disruption of law and order!
My thought and hence the purpose of this post was manifold! One, nudity in art is something we've known since caveman times. That painters, sculptors and photographers have a thing for the nude human form is a known fact. To the extent that I read somewhere that artistes make a distinction between 'nude' which is natural and free-flowing artistic, and 'naked' which is supposedly suggestive art, although both are to be considered aesthetic! Why they gloss over nudity, is something I can never understand. They say they are catering to a greater human consciousness, although I feel they're just pandering to a larger human population! But then again, I accept that I am not an authority on art, not even a novice! But we've all seen 'David' and studied about renaissance art in history books. So MFH really did not manage to do something pathbreaking like his predecessor Van Gogh who pioneered the use of the color yellow! So why did we create such a ruckus in the first place?
Second, why did MFH need to rile Hindu sentiments? Everyone knows that people in India take their Gods and Goddesses very very seriously. Our Goddesses are not akin to Greek Goddesses, who have forever been depicted in a certain way. So why not respect that part of what is intrinsically Indian and not 'firangify' everything! So if not for free publicity, what else could have been the motivation for such depiction? Why not call her Svetlana and the Veena? Making the picture just any picture, not necessarily tied to any religious sentiment! Ah! But that wouldn't have gathered so much publicity, including tomes being printed and published post his demise!
Third, why did we fly off the handle in 1996 about a picture that was actually painted in 1970! If not for blatant hankering for eyeball space by the media, who published the picture in the first place, and then again by political powers who suddenly found themselves turned into toothless tigers with no meat to chew on, what else could explain such unnecessary, irrelevant controversy creation? And then the whole 'death threat' circus. In what way are we any different from the clerics who issued a fatwa against Rushdie for Satanic Verses? How on earth can we adopt a 'holier than thou' attitude and preach about how intolerant those clerics were, that they could tolerate not even a word
against their religion! and if this is indeed our stance, why call ourselves sham secular with freedom of expression? No one forces us to be a free-for-all society like the Americans, who take their freedom very seriously! Let us agree that we have a thing against blasphemy! Nothing wrong at all!
And lastly, what a supreme level of hypocrisy we show, by feting the individual after he passes away! Extolling his virtues, forgiving his faults, reminiscing over the Maqbool Fida he was to various people and so on! News channels speak of nothing else all day. Newspapers publish tomes and tomes of MF times! The sheer blatancy of it all is appalling to say the least! Publicity, eyeball space, TRPs at all costs. Doesn't seem all too blatant, given the controversy-courting individual, who is the subject of the media's present fancy!