MF Husain was always full of excitement and ever on the move, reminisces Madhuri Dixit, the celebrated painter's first Bollywood muse with whom he had planned an ambitious project on Indian cinema. The diva, who had spoken to Husain over a month ago, says he would become sad about not being able to return to India.
Trying to contain her emotions, Madhuri remembers her final conversation with Husain. "The last time I spoke to him was more than a month back. He was so excited about that project on 100 Years Of Cinema. He would always be filled with excitement and never get tired of his work. I think his work was his stress-buster. Most of us need a break from our work, no matter how much we love it. Not Husain Saab.'
Husain died in London on Thursday at age 95.
Speaking from Denver, Madhuri said: "As usual he was very excited about this latest brainchild. His zest for life and his ideas always made me feel older than him."
Taking a deep breath, Madhuri sighs: "It's very difficult to believe Husain Saab is gone. It's like losing someone very near to you. If as you say I was some part of his huge legacy then I am very very proud of being part of what Husain Saab created. He is certainly someone who made a difference to my life."
Diplomatically evading the issue of Husain's enforced exile away from India, Madhuri finally burst out: "Whenever we spoke he was so charged. He would get sad only when he talked about not being home in India. Husain Saab was one of the more liberal people I knew. He believed in all religions and he experienced life to the fullest. Yes, I'll miss him."
In Madhuri's home in the US, MF Husian is a household name. "Even my children know about him. When I told my son Husain Saab is no more he was like, 'Aw Mom, is he really gone?'
Madhuri remembers the bare-feet bare-soled artist's illimitable energy. "Husain Saab called himself a nomad. And he was a really restless soul. I remember when we were shooting 'Gaja Gamini' he'd often disappear from the sets. We'd be like, 'Where is Husain Saab?' He'd be all over the place with his ideas."
Madhuri admits the movie that Husain made was a brain-teaser. "In 'Gaja Gamini' I knew I was not doing a regular normal run-of-the-mill film. He wanted it to be such a cinema where one could take any frame and treat it like an individual painting. It was a tough role. Husain Saab wanted me to portray facets of womanhood with all my mystique and charm. I don't know if I succeeded in putting across even a part of his ideas."
Most of all Madhuri remembers the 90-plus icon's gusto for existence. "He was restless and fidgety. Always on the move. I was tempted to tell him, 'Husain Saab, slow down, so I can catch up with you.' My association started with him when he saw me in 'Hum Aapke Hain Koun'. He saw it umpteenth times. I guess he liked my screen presence. I learnt a lot from my interaction with him."