Mumbai: India's most celebrated artist Maqbool Fida Husain, who has been under attack from sections of the Hindu right, has accepted Qatar's offer of an honorary citizenship as having a "sense of belonging" was important at this stage of his life, said his son Owais Husain, who added that his father "missed home in India terribly".
MF Husain, 95, has dozens of lawsuits against him across the country for his paintings of goddesses that some Hindus find sacrilegious. The artist has been living abroad as a fugitive since 2006.
The celebrated painter left Dubai for Qatar Friday, his son filmmaker-writer-painter Owais Husain said on phone from Dubai.
"Yes, he has left for Qatar where he was warmly received by a large welcoming committee. I was supposed to accompany him from here in Dubai to Qatar. But at the last minute I couldn't go. He travelled alone, as he has all his life, to his new home.
"My father has definitely accepted their offer (of Qatari citizenship). After years of being away from his real home (in India) this sense of belonging, albeit in an adopted country, was I think, very important at this stage of his life," said Owais, who shuttles between Dubai and Mumbai.
After Qatar made the citizenship offer to Husain and people in India got know about it, his fans and noted artists demanded that his return to India be facilitated.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) said Husain was free to live anywhere in the country, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stressed that the artist "did not face danger to his life". But he still faces threats from fringe groups in the Hindu right, apart from the court cases.
Owais in Dubai seemed unaware of the sudden interest in India to get the artist back.
"Do they really want him back now? Isn't it a bit late? My father has been a nomad all his life. But he has been rendered homeless in recent years. He stayed close to me in Dubai and I tried to make him feel at home. But I had my own work too. I know he missed home in India terribly," said Owais, who is now completing a documentary on his father's life.
"I've titled it 'Letters To My Son About My Father'. My son is four years old. When he grows up he should know what a luminous legacy he has to uphold. My father is older than modern independent India. As a child he struggled to make ends meet. During British India he painted slogans against the rulers. In independent India he painted pictures that sold for astronomical sums of money. He didn't plan any of this. He didn't plan his exile in Dubai and now his citizenship in Qatar."
In Qatar, Husain has big plans, include a new feature film, revealed his proud son.
"I plan to fly down to Qatar and we will be discussing projects together. I don't know how to end my documentary on my father. There're no full stops to his life. His life has been charted by destiny."
As Husain makes Qatar his adopted home during his final years, his son said: "He will continue to miss his real home wherever he is. You can take MF Husain out of India. But you can't take India out of MF Husain."
First Published: Saturday, February 27, 2010, 10:53