Better late than never: Google celebrates MF Husain's birthday

  • Nirupama Dutt, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Sep 19, 2015 14:19 IST
Google doodle on MF Husain's birth centenary breaks the silence in the virtual world

If the new Google doodle had not featured the most celebrated and controversial Indian artist Maqbool Fida Husain (Sept 17, 1915 June 9, 2011) in honour of what would have been his 100th birthday, the date may have by and large gone unnoticed. There was a tense silence surrounding the occasion with no functions or retrospectives.

However, the Google doodle has led to many fond remembrances on the social media. Of course a few hate mails are there too but then that is Husain for you; a legend more prominent in his death than life.

Facebook readers were quiet on Thursday but they have risen up to the occasion a day later. The real world is wary but there are many who have remembered him in the virtual world. Husain_compressed1212121232455.jpg

MF Husain remains the most celebrated as well as controversial Indian artist even in death

City artist Balvinder has taken the lead in putting on his Facebook timeline, pictures of the artist and his paintings including a print from a Hinduja Calendar signed by the late artist. However, Balvinder’s remembrance brought forth an angry comment: “It was his zeal to break conventions to portray Hindu goddesses in the nude and hurt feelings. He was an incorrigible man and that’s why his birth anniversary went unnoticed.”

Husain had to quit India in 2006 following many death threats and vandalism of his work by ultra-Hindu outfits even when art critics stressed the point that Hindu temples and the country’s museums were full of bare-bodied iconography of Hindu gods and goddesses.

In exile, this painter who had brought much fame to Indian art, spent his time in Dubai, Qatar, New York and London. He died a sad man in Londn on June 9, 2011.

Journalist AJ Philip has placed the doodle on his timeline with the comment: “I was pleasantly surprised to find Google paying tributes to Maqbool Fida Hussain (19152011) on his 100th birth anniversary today through a doodle.” He adds that none of the national newspapers carried a report on the anniversary.

Poet Soumitra Mohan writes on his timeline with a picture of Husain that such silence is a sad moment in the history of art. He further quotes from an online piece on The Quint by Khalid Mohammad which says had he been around on the occasion of hitting a century, it would have been celebrated with his great showmanship.

Many in Chandigarh recall how he had visited the city in the 1970s and to do on-thespot paintings to raise funds for a home for destitute children.

Many homes still have those paintings and he happily doodled on the notebooks of journalists who had gone to cover the big event.

So the question being asked, in a takeoff on the famous Mark Anthony speech, is: ‘You loved him once and not without cause, ‘You all did love him once, not without cause. What cause withholds you then to remember him?

Email the writer at

also read

HT Report Card: Nothing ventured, nothing gained
Show comments