Maqbool Fida Hussain aka the Picasso of India is one of the most discussed topics of today especially after he accepted the Qatar citizenship. Though conferred upon him, the decision was completely his to accept it. In the past, Indian groups have gone against his art which according to him is freedom of expression and according to few others, obscene. But for me, perception from the eyes of many is what I have understood from many debates on the issue. Some call it 'Rape of Bharatmata, few others call it Naked Bharatmata or Bharatmata in Red. What caught my attention was her nudity. Why MF painted it that way is not a matter of concern. Whether he respects Bharatmata or any other woman is not an issue cos if we get into it we'll end up punishing majority of the men in the world (For eg: Aarushi Khanna, Ruchika case). But what should be discussed is if the art will affect the morals of the society and our Gen next.
I don't know what ‘freedom of expression’ is. This term sometimes justifies littering on roads and sometimes allows the rich to get away with crime, sometimes permits to create a scene in the middle of traffic and sometimes does justice by returning land to the deserving farmer. When MF's paintings were considered to have hurt Indians' sentiments I wondered where all these sentiments went when we indulge into war claiming to be true Gandhians. Where were the sentiments when we silently gave in to bribery? They were hibernating perhaps! Obscene Blue film posters are visible in so many areas in Trivandrum, yet everyone has time to point out only at the nudity of MF's paintings. Certainly he is at fault. But I don't believe in punishing one and letting the others get ignored.
Getting to my point, there are several temples in India which proudly show off our Cultural heritage. As a child, when in India for summer holidays, I loved to visit temples and listen to my Grandma put me to sleep with interesting, authentic, mythical stories of Indian Gods. There were many guides who explained the importance of each temple during such trips. Some temples belonged to the early era where artisans carved out certain Gods with just a single rock. In fact temples were born out of a single rock, etcetera. I always pondered upon why most of the women carvings had a bare chest. Being a big fan of Hindu mythology I have never come across anything such as the women walking around bare chested like the men. So I always found it weird to see such stark nakedness in such beautiful temples that were places of historical value and most importantly, of faith and worship. Some carvings were so erotic in nature that it used to irritate me to worship idols who were surrounded by such obscene art. When such art can be preserved, applauded, declared to promote Indian culture...I do not see any point in vandalizing Mr. Hussain's paintings. For a look at what I intended to say go here : http://farm1.static.flickr.com/158/428760156_6984f95de1.jpg
Kalidasan had once written about Goddess Parvathy in an erotic way for which he was criticized to the core. But we still treasure his other works and pass it on to the next generations though one of his most famous drama- Abhijnanashakuntalam has it's most pivotal scene changed at his convenience (The scene where King Dushyanta apparently forgets Shakuntala after returning back due to a curse is an imaginary addition by Kalidasan so that he could portray the main hero in a good light).
Let us not generalize and point fingers at who we feel is convenient to fall prey to our selected accusations. Let the 95 year old man live his life in peace and I certainly agree with him accepting the Qatar nationality. I wouldn't tolerate anyone vandalizing my art, no one would!
Here are few tweets from tweeters I had debated with:
@VineethJose- The carvings also have sculptures of gays , lesbians and people having sex with animals. Its all there since vedic ages.
@RahulEaswar- Dear Neha. Can u imagine a situation where Sri Hussain paints "Rape of Qatar", Naked Qatar Queen, Queen's affair with someone else
@crown_jk- Carvings made in ancient society was more moral.For them there was nothing wrong in nudity. Now time has passed.We are in 2010,those carvings are now symbols of IND civilization.Now nudity is considered as a crime,can we go & destroy carvings? No. But living in this society,MF made paintings which will hurt people who believe in Hindu religion and love motherland.