My earliest memories of MF Hussain are those of pointing to the television set excitedly and calling out to Mom, “Mummaaa…woh dekho, Nanajaan”.
Mom would laugh and say, “Woh Nanajaan nahin hai, woh hain MF Hussain. Artist hain”.
(For an 8-year-old, the world “Artist” didn’t carry much meaning. At least back then 🙂 . Now, I can identify an MF Hussain painting just by the strong brush strokes. And horses, of, course 😀 )
But what did strike me was the striking resemblance between the barefoot painter and my much loved Nanajaan. Both shared the same sharp nose, the elegant white beard and the mop of silver hair. The only difference ever, was that where MF was lean, full of angles, my Nanajaan was portly, full of curves 🙂 . But everytime I saw the artist on television or in print, it always seemed as if I’m looking at my grandfather. The images brought a sharper pang after Nanajaan expired in 2003. For some reason, I always associated MF with my grandfather. So when MF was exiled, I felt hurt, because I put my grandfather in his shoes and wondered how pained he, the G’pa would be at leaving his beloved land. I remember following the cases that flew fast against the artist, reading up on the accusations and the verdicts. At one time, there was even the disclosure that the title, “Bharat Mata” was never given by MF for his painting. But I guess people hurling accusations at him were too full of righteous indignation to hear him. Even the Delhi High Court held the view that, “A painter at 90 deserves to be in his home — painting his canvass.”
Right now, I wonder what people like Dwaipayan Vyankateshacharya Warkhedkar would do, now that their life’s purpose and the object of their 15-minutes of fame has passed away!! MF is no more, the painting is still owned by some private collector and if sold tomorrow, will fetch even twice its original selling amount.
Whatever be the case, truth is that India didn’t do justice to one of its citizens, one who brought far more recognition for his country than the likes of Mr. Wardhekar above. And that, is our biggest loss.
R.I.P MF Sir. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for you. And a prayer.