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MF Hussain, his surrender of the Indian citizenship and the attacks on him




For the past few days, there has been a huge amount of debate on the decision taken by MF Hussain to take on Qatari citizenship (and since India does not allow double citizenship for Qatar, he will have to give up his Indian citizenship). There has been discussion in the papers, there have been the regular talk shows on Indian television, and a lot of the talking heads on TV have been slanted one way, mostly in his favor.
However, my opinion is a lot more balanced. MF Hussain left India since he felt threatened by some physical attacks on his exhibitions, and the huge number of court cases against him. He is old, beyond the age in which he would want to be harassed by these many court cases against him. Hence, there can be a lot of sympathy for him, and he is considered a national treasure, so one would want such a national icon to come back to the country and be able to live here in safety.
However, things are not so simple. Physical attacks against his exhibitions are something that need to be controlled and stopped immediately (this is true of attacks against such exhibitions of any artists or authors), but the court cases that are filed against him are through the legal system of the country. How one can stop that is not easy, unless there is a consolidation of all the cases against him in either a High Court or the Supreme Court.

As to what all he has done, that is more controversial. It is difficult to not support freedom of art, but then the artist needs to have displayed this freedom on all occasions, not only in one case. MF Hussain faces a lot of flak for having painted Hindu goddesses in the nude, offending many people. Many times, he has been challenged to do the same sort of artistic freedom for other religions, but the only time when he faced a threat, he caved in very quickly.
MF Hussain had made many movies, and of them was called ‘Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities’, released in 2004. When it was released, there were objections by some Muslim activists, and Hussain quickly withdrew the movie, and has never really commented on why he caved in. And that was the day that any support that I had for him quickly disappeared. It was like a statue of artistic freedom was very fallible. MF Hussain is a great artist, one that many people cannot even think of coming close to, but defending him as an icon of artistic freedom no longer makes sense to me.




1 comment to MF Hussain, his surrender of the Indian citizenship and the attacks on him

  • I think we just goofed it up! MF Hussain should have been protected and treasured..our govt didn’t have the backbone to protect its own citizen, irrespective of weather he is a treasure/reputed/popular person or not. He was born in India, a legitimate Citizen of India and he had to forgo citizenship for the sake of his life…not becoz he wanted to become Quatar citizen!

    I agree that he did a lot of controversial things.. but hey India is a land of freedom

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