Ziya Us Salam
Decision follows pressure from activists of Hindu Janjagruti Samiti
‘Through the Eyes of a Painter’ was made in 1967
Artists should not suffer because of politics: Adoor Gopalakrishnan”
PANAJI: After a day of flip-flops, M.F. Husain has lost again. After struggling to exhibit his paintings in the country, the legendary artist now finds that he cannot screen his film at the ongoing International Film Festival of India here. As the authorities have taken refuge in technicalities, Husain has again been banished from a public show.
The short film, Through the Eyes of a Painter, is a 40-year-old venture that has won international awards.
With activists of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti mounting pressure for its withdrawal, it was finally decided that Husain’s film, originally scheduled for screening this Tuesday as part of the Film Divisions’ Framing Time section, would not be shown. The browbeating tactics of the radical Hindu outfit that has sought a total boycott of Husain have worked, as earlier in the day the officials claimed that the film would be shown.
The Samiti activists, in a representation to CEO of the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) Manoj Srivastava, said: “M.F. Husain has hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus with his nude paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses. There are 1,250 cases pending before various police stations across the country, of which 900 are in Goa.”
Besides writing to the ESG and the Chief Minister, the activists are said to have staged a protest in Mumbai too. Buckling under the demand, the authorities decided to withdraw the film and go on with the rest of the screenings “in a peaceful manner.”
Chief Minister Digambar Kamat refused to acknowledge the presence of the film or its cancellation at the last hour. Claiming that the film was not at all scheduled for screening, he said, “I don’t have the details. I have not seen the film or any such schedule where it is marked for a show.”
The late evening decision comes on the heels of the assurance by the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) that the film would go on.
A senior official had stated Husain’s “beautiful film,” which presents his view on Rajasthan, would be shown and there “will be no problem in screening it.”
The directorate was apparently in favour of screening the film but had to submit to the behind-the-scenes manoeuvring of the ‘samiti.’
DFF director S.M. Khan said, “It was decided not to show the film. Technically speaking, it was not part of IFFI. It was a part of the Framing Time section of the Films Division.”
Ace filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan came out in support of Mr. Husain and said, “By all means the film should be shown. If anybody has any objection it is due to interpretation which is a personal matter. Artists should not suffer because of politics.”
Husain’s short film, made way back in 1967, was part of a larger bouquet on illustrious artists, writers and poets like Raja Ravi Varma, Amrita Shergil, Picasso, Rabindranath Tagore, Mohammed Iqbal and Mirza Ghalib.