Tag Archives: M.F. Husain

Free speech gets a major boost (in the a**)


So, young Indians cannot tell their friends in what they like on Facebook, without being “pre-screened” by Harvard types (or hauled into a police station by Shiv Sena goons). So, bloggers cannot publish their “online private diaries” without the sword of 66(A) hanging over their heads.

So, tweeters can be blocked and Savita bhabhi‘s enviable lifestyle is subject to some faceless babu’s sense of humour (or voyeurism). So, the Mahatma‘s life is beyond scrutiny in the land of you-know-who. So (oh!), Aamir Khan‘s film will miraculously not be screened, also in the land of you-know-who.

Or his TV show.

So, TV stations cannot show protests without threatened by the information and broadcasting ministry (or corporate titans). So, newspapers cannot report what their reporters see without being told that the tap of government advertisements could be turned off.

So, M.F. Husain cannot die in his own country. So, A.K. Ramanujam‘s interpretation of the Ramayana hurts somebody.

So, Ashis Nandy cannot drop his pearls on corruption without offending Dalits, tribals and OBCs. So, Salman Rushdie cannot go to a lit-fest in Jaipur (or Calcutta) without offending Islamist fundoos. So, Shah Rukh Khan cannot write what’s in his heart without offending.

So, Kamal Hassan‘s new film can be banned by a government run by a former film actor.

Sometimes, you do have to remind yourself it is a free country, don’t you?

Image: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today


Does the media have a right to inflame?

The republication of Taslima Nasrin‘s 2007 essay on the burqa in Kannada Prabha, the riots that resulted in the death of two in Shimoga, the reported filing of an FIR against the Kannada daily and the “regret” expressed by the newspaper reopen an evergreen question: is the media within its rights to publish incendiary material knowing fully well its potential to wreak damage, or should it play safe especially when certain communities (read Muslims) are involved?

For the moment, the Bangladeshi author has washed her hands off the Kannada Prabha translation, leaving no doubt that it was unauthorised. Maybe, but so what; copyright is an issue between the author and the paper. The timing of the protests, just when Nasrin has sought a visa from India, and quite coincidentally in the beleaguered chief minister’s home-district, also raise some doubts of hanky-panky. Nevertheless, neither of those issues quell the bigger, fundamental questions.

CHURUMURI POLL: Is it the media’s role in society to spark debate and discussion, or is it supposed to swim with the tide and coast along and protect public order, even if dictated by dogma and worse? If the Danish (and European) newspapers could en masse decide to publish the supposedly controversial cartoons on the Prophet despite knowing the havoc it could cause, do Indian publications have a special onus on them to not rock the boat? And, the eternal question: if it is OK to publish M.F. Husain‘s paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses, should the media take extra care to not hurt “religious sentiments” only when Muslims are involved?

Read the comments to this poll here

Also read: Bolo Bharat mata ki jai, Bolo it’s a work of art

Desh ke police kaise ho? Moral police jaise ho!

Just how is this dress an affront to Hindu culture?

The Indian cartoon that’s offending Australians

It takes a particular genius to feel offended by a piece of art instead of the reality it mirrors.

Several students of Indian origin have been clobbered in Australia in an unceasing (and unacceptable) wave of attacks over the last few months; one of them even being killed last week. Yet, the response from both countries is beyond comical; it’s tragic to the point of being farcical.

And for both countries, the media has become a convenient whipping boy.

Instead of telling the Aussies to “rack off, you bloody bonzers“, Indian foreign minister S.M. Krishna buffers up like a slow, dial-up modem, nods in agreement with what he is about to say, counsels Indian parents not to send their children for hair styling and facial courses, and cautions against “frenzied reporting”.

Australia instead of tightening security to reassure students, is happy to take truckloads of journalistson a junket to generate some good PR. Meanwhile, its acting prime minister, Julia Gillard, takes offence, not at the killing of a young man, but at this newspaper cartoon which she admits she hasn’t seen!

Cartoon: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today

Also read: L’affaire Mohammed Haneef

Bolo, Bharat mata ki jai. Bolo, it’s a work of art

Bolo ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’. Bolo ‘It’s a work of art’

Not that they are sensitive to these things, but the highest court in India has delivered a stinging slap on the menacing faces of the moral police and thought thugs; the connoisseurs who know exactly what we should see, hear, wear, watch, read, write, paint, feel and think.

Or else.

Maqbool Fida Husain‘s Bharat Mata—a 2004 oil-on-canvas painting of a nude woman whose shape mimics the contours of the map of India, with the names of Indian cities written over her body—has been decreed “a work of art” by the Supreme Court of India.

Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, while refusing to initiate criminal proceedings against Husain for allegedly “hurting public sentiments” and the “national pride of Indians”, said:

“There are so many such subjects, photographs and publications. Does the sentiment of the petitioner get scandalized by the large number of photographs of erotic sculptures which are in circulation? Will you file cases against all of them?

“What about temple structures?

“It (Husain’s work) is art. If you don’t want to see it, don’t see it. There are so many such art forms in temple structures.”

Also read: M.F. HUSAIN: Do you throw out a naughty child?

RITU MENON: In the name of Bhagwan, Allah, God…

Desh ke police kaise ho? Moral police jaise ho!

Just how is this dress an affront to Hindu culture?