The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Big B to unveil Maqbool memoirs

Mumbai, Nov. 28: Superstar Amitabh Bachchan will release painter M.F. Husain’s autobiography, written in the third person, on December 9.

The book, M F Husain Where Art Thou, is the story of three people — not I, Me, Myself — but “the boy”, Maqbool the artist and M.F. Husain the brand.

“It is not a chronological account of my life, but anecdotes and incidents from my life,” says the painter. Stretching from his early life to the present, the incidents happen on a plane where the three personas often encounter each other, in moments of profound recognition.

Husain gives an example. In one chapter, he says, he has the boy making a clay figure. The artist Maqbool comes along and daubs it with paint. Then the brand MF Husain comes up and puts his signature on it and a mad scramble for the figure begins and it breaks into pieces. Then the pieces get sold at a premium, because it has the signature of the brand he has become.

Identity crisis' No, it’s a coming together. And the brand, anyway, is not self-creation. It has been manufactured by “society”, says Husain and the memoirs are his protest.

“It is the creation of the pseudo-cultural society that turns an art work into a commodity,” says Husain.

The memoirs, written by Husain in Hindustani, has been translated and “transliterated” by writer-critic-film director Khalid Mohammad, who also helped put together Jaya Bachchan’s book on husband Amitabh.

“Khushwant Singh was supposed to do the book, but he didn’t have time. Then a Delhi-based professor worked on it, but I was not happy with the way it turned out. Then Khalid Mohammad did the transliteration, and he has done a very good job. He has been able to retain the flavour of the language,” says Husain.

The Hindi version of the book had a soft launch in Delhi. But after the English launch, the book will be translated in French, Malayalam and Bengali.

The Bengali version will be launched next year, in association with Galerie 88, in Calcutta.

The book will be accompanied by 150 drawings to go with the narratives. Not paintings, “because writing is so much like drawing”, says Husain. The memoirs will be about 300 pages long and priced between Rs 1,200 and Rs 1,500.

Do his muses appear in his memoirs'

“They do, from Madhuri Dixit to Mother Teresa. I have depicted them frankly, but poetically,” says Husain.

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