Away from home for years in self-imposed exile due to threats to his life from Hindu fundamentalists, legendary artist M F Husain's yearning to return to India has never died.
But, the painter, who turned 94 three days back, also feels that he does not have to be physically present in India to be there. "It's in my blood," he says.
On whether he wished the government would help him more to return to India, the artist, whose paintings sold for a whopping USD 582,500 at a recent Sotheby's action here, said this would be the aspiration of any normal human being.
Husain was forced to go in exile after several cases were filed against him for hurting sentiments of people by his nude portrayal of Hindu goddesses. His house in India was attacked and art works vandalised by the fundamentalists. He now keeps on shuttling between Dubai and London and is currently here.
On the art scene in India, the artist, whose painting 'Battle of Ganga and Jamuna: Mahabhrata 12' fetched a whopping USD 1.6 million setting a world record at the Christie's South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art Sale in 2008, appeared upbeat about it. He said India's strides on the art scene should be compiled in a book to make people aware about it.
"I think it is very dynamic. What we had in the last 50-60 years is phenomenal. The only thing is that it has not been written in book form so that people can know more about it. Our own people don't know what we have achieved," he told.
Currently working on the 'Voyage of Discovery,' Husain said the 60-70 years of his experience will be reflected in his latest work.
The controversial painter, however, refused to give his opinion on Indian artists, saying: "there are no likes or dislikes. Those who are not up to the standard get themselves eliminated".
On the biggest source of inspiration for his works, he said, "life itself".
"Life is the greatest gift of God. Each moment, each second is precious," he told PTI at the Tamarind Arts Council where he is working on his latest painting.
On Bollywood, with which he himself flirted for a while, Husain dubbed the Hindi film industry as merely an entertainment "churning machine" and the films produced by it as no more than "nautankis".
Husain said the world's largest film producing industry has failed to make any great films, barring a few, but expressed his admiration for Satyajit Ray's movies.
"Bollywood is only a churning machine of making entertainment. They are not films, they are just nautankis," he said.
"There are hardly any great films that come out from there, except very few like 'Mother India' or 'Mugha-e-Azam'," Husain said.
Husain's first film 'Through the Eyes of a Painter' in 1967, was shown at the Berlin Film festival and won a 'Golden Bear'. PTI