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The M F Husain Chat

M F Husain We were nervous. The M F Husain Chat was the first we had scheduled at our new office and we weren't quite sure if the great man would actually turn up. After all, Maqbool Fida is known to pack a bag and zoom off to some faraway destination without a thought.

But a few minutes before eight, the man most Indians consider our greatest painter walked in. Barefoot, of course. And carrying a large brush, like some Oriental sultan bearing a selpuchre. He was everything he's billed to be -- very charming, very modest and a super Chat guest.

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:3 IST)
Hi here I am, it gives me great pleasure to talk to you and now you can shoot the questions.

nipuls (Fri Nov 21 1997 19:55 IST)
Is the bearded wonder there? Give him my regards. He told me once he was planning exhibitions across India. Has he done it yet?

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:6 IST)
Nipuls: I have been doing that for the last forty years, I have held exhibitions in small towns and big towns.

Sumi (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:7 IST)
Mr Husain, there were rumours that you were writing a script for Ms Dixit.. what happened? Has it been shelved because she's no longer giving any hits?

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:10 IST)
Sumi: I already completed the script; the book titled Gajgamini: Art and Cinema has already been published and there is no question of scrapping the film. Those one or two films that have flopped make no difference because she is one of the greatest actresses the Indian screen has ever seen, and there is no question of the film being shelved, because her current film Dil To Pagal Hai has become such a great success, that it has put her back in the dominating position in Indian cinema.

sandesa (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:9 IST)
Ok Mr Husain .. did you see Dil To Pagal Hai?

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:14 IST)
Sandesa: Yes I have already seen it 5 times and its sheer poetry of song and dance and the way she appears as a highly romantic form is like you see in the impressionistic paintings. She is not the Mona Lisa of the Renaissance, but she is Picasso's Mademoiselle D'Avignon.

nipuls (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:12 IST)
Mr Husain, what is the latest painting you are working on

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:16 IST)
Nipuls: The latest series of paintings on which I'm working on are the Three Ms -- Mother Teresa, Madhuri Dixit and Madonna. Madonna when she acted as Evita.

curious (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:22 IST)
Maqbool Sahab, Please tell us the drive behind your Horses period. Don't leave us all feeling that we got no real answers from you.

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:25 IST)
Curious: The horses period still continues. It is not like I did the painting and now I am not, it still continues. The horse is a combination of male and female, the front part of the horse is the male which is very aggressive; the back part is like a woman. So it is like a ArdhNareshwar (Half Man-Woman) the horses are a metaphor for the male and the female and is not depicted as an animal. Besides horses I have painted the Mahabharata, Ramayana and a whole series on Mother Teresa. Just three years back I did a series on the major nine religions of the world -- Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism etc, and about ten years back I did a series on the British Raj, then I have done a series on major cities -- Calcutta, Benares, Rome and when I went to China, I painted the Chinese city Beijing. Then there was a big mural which is 40 feet high and is called the Portrait of the 20th Century on which all the major personalities of arts, science dance, literature, politics, are depicted. And if you want to know more in detail about my work, my philosophy and personal life, you can visit my own website which will be launched next month.

ajit donald (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:22 IST)
At 82 (Sept 15, 1915), don't you ever want to retire? Will you die with your paint brush in your hand? Does death frighten you?

jahanaara (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:21 IST)
Mr. Husain, the media characterises you as someone itching for controversy. Is it true? I don't think it is. What do you say?

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:31 IST)
Ajit Donald: I'd like to die like a soldier with the boots on. Janajaara: I think you don't do work for controversy alone, and whenever you do new work which people don't understand and they say it is done to create controversy. Throughout my life I have experimented and I kept on trying to use so many media and ideas in my work because our horizon is so vast and Indian culture is so rich that I think what we are today, culturally, we have a unique position and I don't think one lifetime is enough to encompass it.

jahanaara (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:31 IST)
Mr Husain, I will like your take on your Saraswati painting. What do you have to say about the controversy it caused?

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:37 IST)
Jahanaara: Since there are a lot of questions on the Saraswati painting this is what I have to say: Saraswati is the goddess of arts and literature and it has been depicted in Indian culture and Indian miniatures in the past in various forms. The one which I painted was with great respect and conviction, there was no intention except to create an image of Saraswati in the modern language of painting, which some people couldn't understand the nuances of artistic appeal. This was not a painting but a drawing which was done 20 years back and was not meant for exhibition or publication.

curious (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:36 IST)
So tell us sir... Did your wife or kids inspire your work? Did your kids take to painting,etc... are they any good?

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:41 IST)
Curious: Of course as they say there is a woman behind every successful man. But I say behind every successful painting there is a woman, and in my case it was my wife. Two of my sons are painters, Shamshad and Owais.

Harry (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:37 IST)
Mr Husain, talking about serious art, where do you think art is headed in the 21st century???? No serious school of thought, even if there is doesn't seem to have make an lasting presence. Brilliance scattered. Talent wasted on trivia.

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:45 IST)
M F Husain Harry : It is not like the early times when there were groups of people belonging to the same school thought. The art of the coming century will be more dynamic because people have come to appreciate various forms of art and artistic expressions.

curious (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:44 IST)
What about Raisa, Mustafa and Aqueela? I was in school with these kids when we were in Bombay I never believed their father was the great Husain! We'd rarely seen you uncle!

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:47 IST)
Curious: Raisa is here and she is doing fabrics printing and weaving, twice married. Aqueela was Jeddah now in Bombay, a housewife with three children. Mustafa is in Madras making ad films and running a Chinese restaurant.

Harry (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:45 IST)
Besides your children who else do you think have recognisable talent within India and internationally? A few years back if I recollect correctly you had spoken greatly about Mr Ganesh Pyne which was a turning point in there career, has that stopped you from pointing out talent?????????

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:51 IST)
Harry: India has produced several young talents Ganesh Pyne was 20 years back but today we have artists like Chitravanu Majumdar and Eliyne Bhomick in Calcutta, among internationally known Ramkumar, Tyeb Mehta, Bal Chhabra, Gaitonde are some of them.

curious (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:47 IST)
Sir, There is a talk in art circles that you charge exorbitant rates for your paintings... what is the criterion by which you judge the price of your paintings?

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:54 IST)
Curious: Normally the pricing of paintings are done by art dealers. In comparison to Western artists's prices Indian paintings are priced much below international standards. Picasso's painting of a cat was recently auctioned in New York with the reserve price of $ 140 million.

curious (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:55 IST)
Are you basically religious, Sir, or an agnostic, or an atheist?

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:56 IST)
Curious: Here I would like to quote E M Foster "I don't believe in God, Oh God help me in my disbelief."

Alps (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:57 IST)
MFH, Have you done any paintings of Mohammed?

rang (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:57 IST)
Fida ji, Are you a devout Moslem.Do you go to mosques.Do you read Namaz.

mahera (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:57 IST)

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 20:59 IST)
Mahera: Hello Mahera and Mahvash, ValikUmSalaam, See you soon in Madras.

Mr M F Husain (Fri Nov 21 1997 21:3 IST)
It was great chatting with you, this is the first time I'm using this medium and I'm still not Internet savvy but I would love to meet you again and experience the Net again. I wish you all the best and Happy New Year and Merry Christmas.