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February 2, 2001

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'Gujarat left me shattered'

Rifat Jawaid in Calcutta

Renowned painter Maqbool Fida Husain on Thursday auctioned a painting he had worked on expressly to help Gujarat earthquake victims for over Rs one million.

Husain said that the earnings from the painting, christened Gujarat 2001, would go to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund as his "token of love to share the grief of our brothers and sisters in Gujarat."

Speaking to rediff.com, Hussain said that he would be visiting six other metros for holding similar auctions in coming week.

"The catastrophe in Gujarat has left me shattered. Besides, I have my roots in Gujarat -- my stepmother, Shireen, hails from there. I spent all my childhood in Gujarat.

"In the wake of recent tragic happening, I feel it is our collective responsibility to help those millions of brothers and sisters who have been forced to undergo constant moments of distress and agony," Hussain remarked.

Though there weren't many bidders for Husain's painting, former Indian Davis Cup captain Naresh Kumar and his wife Sunita Kumar consented to bid the highest amount. However, neither Kumar couple nor Husain would divulge the sum offered by the former.

All Hussain told reporters was that Kumars' bid was more than what he would have earned at Christie's. Later, Kumar said that he had acquired the painting at over Rs one million.

He said, "It is the cause that matters most more than the money. Where would you get this worthy cause and stupendous painting? My wife and I told Husain that our bid would be the highest. I love the cause behind this painting. There is a lot of emotion in it.

"Husain says that he has received a few biddings, whose offers he was yet to see. He would intimate me about the offers made by those bidders soon. However, when he said that the price wouldn't be less than what this painting would have fetched him at Christie's, he meant that the painting is going to be over a million rupees."

By Husain's own admission, he finished this painting in less than an hour. The painting done predominantly in red with a slight use of black subtly depicted the devastation and the sufferings of common people in Gujarat in the aftermath of earthquake.

Justifying the use of red colour in his painting, Husain said that it was symbolic of the fact that amidst all destruction and agony, there existed a life.

Responding to a question that his painting had failed to evoke overwhelming response amongst the bidders, Husain said that he was not disappointed.

"Itís immaterial whether I get five rupees or five million for this painting. All that matters here is the cause and my intention. Even if one person turned up and offered five rupees, it's worth five million, since I have no intention of making fortune out of it," he added.

Husain also added that he would be attending the Berlin Film Festival on February 14, where his film, Gaja Gamini has been shortlisted for special screening.

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