Artists MF Hussain appears to be in trouble again as Patiala Court has issued a summon to controversial artist of India M F Hussain and a social worker Nafisa Josef Ali on Wednesday 7th Feb 2007. The Patiala Court had ordered them to appear in the court on 6th March 2007.
This controversy raised in 2006 when Hussain's painting "Bharatmata" (Mother India) figuring a nude woman was displayed on an exhibition organized by social worker Nafisa Ali who works for an NGO. Husain has been in controversies earlier also for portraying Hindu Goddess Durga and Saraswati in nude and in the company of various animals in 1996. His Film Minaxi too faced protests from Muslim Groups in 2004.
One TV Channel has organized a debate on this at their Mumbai studio last year with Dr. Durgesh Samant of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti and Nafisa Ali, a social worker. Below is the transcript of that debate:
TV Host: Acclaimed artist M.F. Hussain once again finds himself targeted by Hindutva Brigade, not for the first time, this time for another of his paintings. While joining us for this special discussions from Mumbai, Mr. Durgesh Samant, national spokesperson for Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. Delhi, Nafisa Ali, Social activist involved in the organization of that exhibition. But M.F. Hussain & controversy have coexisted for years. His Latest is the one related to new depiction of Mother India. Saharjama takes the look at the artist's list of scandals'''''.
Nafisa Ali: Because in Democracy it is very important to hear all sides of the stories and the interest of the cause, which is so serious, which is rehabilitation and rebuilding Kashmir. M.F. Hussain & Saran Apparao, who is the curator of the show, decided in the public interest to withdraw the painting from public view. But it is already sold. So the cause is benefited. The painting is sold and it is a beautiful painting, I personally think that in a female form in all its purity its what Bharatmata is depicted. Unfortunately people have seen it as a naked woman. But it is the purest form.
TV Host: Female form, in it's purest form Mr. Samant, you want to react to that, why look at this painting purely in the terms as a insult to Bharatmata, why not look at it as Hussain's tribute to womanhood.
Dr. Durgesh Samant: Now the thing here is the painting called 'Bharatmata', it has been mentioned as a painting of Bharatmata. And if you see the painting it is one with the land. So there is no question of womanhood here.
TV Host: What is your biggest concern, would you believe Husain is insulting by doing a painting which is his expression of womanhood.
Dr. Durgesh Samant: Yes. He is insulting national pride.
TV Host: Who decides that ? Does the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti decide what constitute national pride or should the people of India decide that?
Dr. Durgesh Samant: Now here we have expressed, as freedom of expression is there for an artist, so also its there for those who want to criticize it. So we have criticized. We have put across our point, it's up to the government to decide which side is correct.
TV Host: So it is your point of view, your opinion, Nafisa, why is it M.F. Hussain does this time after time he brings out such a painting, caught controversies then ends up apologizing it almost seems that it is manufactured at one level.
Nafisa Ali: M.F. Hussain is really a very old and senior citizen of India. His son is really very sick and all this happened and he was so concerned for his son's health. He says that, if there is any issue please its fine just withdraw it. There is no problem. And I am sorry if it is hurt any hindutva brigade and for me also it doesn't really matter because '..
TV Host: Why apologies? Hang on. Hang on. You have said in the start of this programme that you believe it shows womanhood in its purest form. Then why get defensive? Remove the painting, why should Mr. Husain apologise?
Naffisa Ali: Mr. Husain did it in the interest of democracy I believe that his prerogative whether he wanted to withdraw it or not. I was personally proud of the paintings because if you see the paintings'it so symbolic to what India needs. It needs the power of the female to come forward for a futuristic India, which is really hampered by a male dominance.
TV Host: What it is particularly that about artist in Hussain, that gets you angry. Fact that he is Muslim, is that where the problem steps? If anyone else has done these paintings would you have shown the same objection?
Dr. Durgesh Samant: Yes! Yes! It is not because he is a Muslim. If he is a Muslim and he has drawn Goddess & Bharatmata fully clothed we would have appreciate in much better way. But ha !' he has not done so. If anybody else irrespective to any religion had drawn a naked Bharatmata, we would have objected it.
TV Host: Nafisa Ali, you have worked in a creative field, where does creative freedom really end and responsibility to a larger society begin. Can we draw those lines ?
Nafisa Ali: As watching the topic you are discussing about the Clemencho, the ship, I think it is more important that the Hindu Jagran Manch & the chief minister of Gujarat, act in all interest in the welfare of those common poor people, who go there for work. More important than to protest a painting, which is anyway sold. So there is really no issue and it is been apologized and the exhibition is over.
TV Host: I think you made useful point. Mr. Samant why not focus on the real issues of the country. Why go around this country, burning paintings?
Dr. Durgesh Samant: That's what I'm coming to, one important thing is that our all protests were silent, no violence, no burning paintings, etc. Secondly the issue that the painting is sold is very sad from the lookout of inculcation of values in our children and all next generation! Do we want to sell Bharatmata naked & earn money ( for ) some cause? Will the earthquake victims like it? It's not the issue of the Hindus. It is the issue of all Indians.
Nafisa Ali: Killing of the fetus, maligning of a girl child, this is the issue that India is really played with. And that's what we should be working for.
TV Host: We don't want to be diluted by the heat that is generated. I think there is a crucial question where does creative expression how far really can you take creative expression in a democratic society. Thanks for coming up and giving two points of view.
Is nudity the purest form of femininity ? Well, Nafisa Ali does feel so, do you feel that way ? If so email us... Voice your opinion not just as a Hindu but as an Indian !
The most pure aspect of femininity lies in Motherhood. Motherhood is the greatest gift of Ishwara to mankind. Ishwara's potential energy of preservation manifests through motherhood. So where does feminine nudity come into picture ? In any civilised society feminine nudity is an aspect of seduction, not purity. Even in the most downtrodden and backward cultures it is found that motherhood is revered in the clothed form. The purest form of Mother India is according the status of Goddess Durga to her the motto being Service to Mother India is Service to the divine mother's holy feet. The contradiction in Nafisa's statement lies in the fact that being a Social Activist herself, she is supporting feminine nudity in context of artsitic freedom ! Will Nafisa extend her philosophical concept of depiction of nudity as purity of womanhood to the pornographic actors and actresses ?
Some responses we got from our petition page -
(Note: Hindu Janjagruti Samiti does not own or author these comments and they do not necessarily indicate the viewpoint of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti. They have been published to highlight seriousness of Indian Hindu Sentiments, which have been hurt by the Bharatmata Painting)
1. 'I would request Madam Nafisa Ali to perform all her Social work in the nude so that everyone might know her purest form too !' - Shri Rajendra Patil (Maharashtra)
2. 'Does Husain feel that Bharatmata is Madhuri Dixit ?' - An angry college going Student at Andheri.
3. 'Dear Sir/Madam, I have a very short message that if muslims can agitate so much for caricature of Mohammad, then why should MF Hussain do such things to hurt the sentiments of people of other religion. If he is really creative then why his creativity comes out for Hindu Gods only why not a naked Mohammad, Pagamber etc intead of naked Saraswati Bharat Mata etc. I think we should ask him about making a similar picture for Mohammad Pagambar etc. ' Regards Vinay Khare
4. 'MF Husain should be hanged till death' - Mr. Rajan Panigrahi