While the PMO India tweets, “Art can’t have any restrictions or limits”, filmmakers, artists and writers face bans, humiliation and even arrest for several charges including obscenity, sedition, cultural and religious threat and the like.
India has been a ‘tolerant’ country, but certainly, the Indians are not. When artists exercise their freedom of expression, it becomes highly outrageous and problematic to some of the highly conservative groups (read goons) of India, who would then go to extreme limits to tarnish the image of the artist.
Remember the case of the prominent artist late MF Hussain? He has to live in countries like Doha, Dubai and London because he was not allowed to paint peacefully in his own country. What can be more harmless than a painting? It is true that art can invoke emotions and acts as a medium to communicate to a larger sect of society, but does that mean the voice of dissent that it expresses should be curbed even in a democratic country like India?
Fringe Hindu groups who were ‘offended’ by the work of late MF Hussain continued filing cases against him in several high courts across India, attacked his studio several times and tried to tarnish his image through the social media. When he painted the nude portrait of Bharat Mata, he was severely criticised for his work and organizers, who would otherwise have happily exhibited his work, were too reluctant to do that.
Exasperated by the lack of support that he got from the Indian state and the continued harassment—both physical and legal, Husain gave up and renounced his Indian citizenship only to move away from the country. And that’s how we lost one of the greatest artist we had!