Commerce and art have collaborated in the past, but coming together of India’s avant-garde painter MF Husain and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan gives the alliance a new dimension. Their combined effort on a canvas send the mercury soaring among the London art patrons, mostly of Indian origin, as Bonhams, one of the oldest art galleries in the British capital, put it up for auction.
The painting, a scene from K Asif’s 1960 magnum opus ‘Mughal-E-Azam’, depicting Anarkali lying in a beautiful dress with her head resting in the lap of Salim, had attracted over 250 Indians, whose total worth would be nothing less than £750 million. The painting was snapped up for £160,000.
Along with it, an array of art works by contemporary artists such as Satish Gujral, Anjolie Menon was also auctioned for hefty cheques.
The proceeds went to a Tehelka charity, which had hosted the event. The event had attracted noble laureate VS Naipaul, Union Minister for Science and Technology Kipal Sibal, and Omar Abdullah. The painting was done in last two days but the Badshah Khan played a special cameo and gave the finishing touches. Of course under the guidance of the maestro himself. Much to the amazement of the bidders, Husain handed over a brush to Khan and asked him to put colour to a sitar, which the actor, to the surprise of many, did quite deftly.
Husain explained why he chose to paint a scene from one of the classics of the Indian cinema. “Anarkali was possibly a fantasy, an imagination of a writer. But Salim’s love for her was immortalised by K Asif. She became a real person, symbolising real love.” Asked by HT how would he rate the painting skills of Khan, the actor interrupted: “I am with the Master (Husain). I can try my hand because the Master will turn it into a masterpiece.” Husain, in turn added:
“We never tried to create a piece for posterity.”