The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Art of Massification F Husain
- A crore a painting, you get it anytime, anywhere

Mumbai, Dec. 14: The act of selling a hundred paintings for Rs 100 crore may be a good business deal, or mortification, depending on the way it's looked at. But when the buyer makes the series available to a mobile service provider, the author of the works calls the act an unambiguous 'massification'.

Others would call it a new business model.

M.F. Husain's series titled Our Planet Called Earth, for which businessman Guru Swarup Srivasatava has promised the painter Rs 100 crore at the rate of Rs 1 crore per painting, will now be available on Airtel phones. It called for the coining of a word.

Husain, who could not attend the function in the city because he developed a chest pain in Hyderabad yesterday and is still there, spoke enthusiastically over the phone about the event today at a news conference.

Expressing his disappointment at not being able to be present, he rooted for the occasion, giving his wholehearted support to the 'massifying of art' that he has always looked forward to.

It means reaching out to people through art. In this case through mobile phones. Airtel vice president, new product, Mohit Bhatnagar hailed the 'massification' of art, too, as the first painting to be available as a wallpaper, titled Caf' Paris, was unveiled.

Airtel hopes that its subscriber base of 10.2 million and affordability will ensure the 'massification'. The unveiled painting, which shows two soldiers in a Parisian Caf' presumably in a World War II backdrop ' one holding up his wine glass with blood-red wine to a blood-red fighter plane flying overhead ' can be downloaded for Rs 15 from the mobile phone services website by Airtel customers.

Twenty-four paintings in the series, which will deal with a vast range of themes, including colonisation, Mahatma Gandhi and Lenin, are ready and download-ready, too.

'It is a big day for the Husain family,' said Shafat Husain, the 88-year-old artist's son, standing in for his father, 'for being able to reach out to the masses. It is a historic day.'

Airtel said the business model it has entered into with Srivastava is 'confidential', but there should be more transactions between art and technology based on this model, like auctions.

Coruscant Tec, which has done the digitisation of the paintings, said that along with the paintings, themes based on the paintings will be available on the cellular service website. They will be available in different formats and multiple sizes.

Srivastava, chairman and managing director, Swarup Group of Industries, said the entire Our Planet Called Earth series would be ready by September 17, 2005, Husain's birthday.

He added that the painting series he has acquired will yield newer transactions with other corporates. There are talks of auctioning the paintings at an awards function, he said.

It is a little like what happened between Sachin Tendulkar and WorldTel.

Even the pledged amount is the same.

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