Husain was a true lover of India: Shabana

Last Updated: Jun 11, 2011, 20:20 PM IST

Mumbai: MF Husain loved India very much and should not have been "forced out" of the country, says Shabana Azmi remembering the celebrated painter who died in London Thursday. Shabana, who had a long association with Husain, feels that his admirers, including herself, should have spoken out more forcefully against his exile.

"Husain loved this country so much and yet he inhabited the world of international art. The amalgamation of the Indian and international sensitivities was so perfect in him that he started a Husain language in modern art. That was his biggest strength. What a sad loss for India that someone of Husain`s calibre had to be exiled and had to die away from his home," says Shabana.

"For someone who loved his country and brought so much honour to his country to be exiled just on the basis of the ire of one small section who were using his name to further their own political propagandist agenda, was sad."

"I absolutely believe that any artiste should not hurt the people`s sentiments. But one has to make a difference between hurting sentiments and politicizing the issue. It wasn`t the aam aadmi who wanted Husain out of the country. I know what a true lover Husain was of India," she said.

"Looking back I wish people like me who believed in him should have spoken much more strongly against his exile. We, of course, made a noise. But not enough. We should have pursued it more single-mindedly. It was a huge huge tragedy for all of us that an artiste who brought so much glory to our country should have to spend his final years away from home," Azmi said.

"Husain loved the fragrances and the festivals of India. He shouldn`t have been forced out. I`ll have to live with the guilt of knowing he died away from home."

Speaking of Husain`s background, Shabana said: "Husain really looked after his entire family, his children and grandchildren. If you tell me to describe M.F. Husain in one sentence, I`d say he`s a product of India`s composite culture."

"He grew up in a deeply cosmopolitan household. His mother used to wear a traditional nine-yard sari. He made Madhuri wear the nine-yard sari in `Gaja Gamini`. All the aspersions that were cast on him for being anti-Hindu were so completely baseless. I am deeply saddened and surprised by Husain Saab`s death. It`s hard to associate old age and death with him. He had such childlike qualities about him that I had somehow convinced myself he would remain a child forever."

"...He was an inconoclast and a genius. But more than that he was a wonderful human being. And in spite of being so much older than me, he was a very close friend. First he was my father`s (the late poet Kaifi Azmi) friend, then mine."

IANS