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'No eyes, no nose... just her lips'

Dated: 27-12-2006
Source: Bombay Times
Writer/Contributed by: Gauri Sinh


...says MF Hussain, giving BT an exclusive peek as he paints his latest muse actor Amrita Rao in Dubai

MF Hussain and Amrita Rao appear relaxed in the picture, taken in Dubai, as the maestro painted his latest muse. But appearances can be deceptive. As Amrita confessed, back in Mumbai after her recent two day visit, she was a little bit nervous posing for him: "Do I smile, do I not, how do I pose? After all, I had never done this before!"
When BT quizzed Hussain on the difference or smilarities of painting the two actors, his incredulity came through, even on a phone line, long distance from Dubai. "How is a comparison possible? They both are different, posess different characters... how can you compare Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar?"
Tall compliment indeed for Amrita, who needn't have been nervous. Her decision to go with a half smile was captured in entirely on the artist's canvas.
"Anyone can tell it's me," the elation in her voice is apparent. "The jawline, the smile... Hussainsaab even got the peach colour of my kurta perfect." Hussain is as effusive in his praise for the porcelain actor. "Amrita could appreciate the subtle nuances of painting. The painting had no eyes, no nose, just her lips. Anyone else might've asked 'where are the eyes, the nose...'She understood that when artists paint, they don't paint eyes and noses...they paint character."
Amrita's character came across as traditional going by the observation made by photographer Atul Kasbekar who was present at the shoot. "Amrita touched Hussain's feet when she met him." Kasbekar was also entranced by Hussain's 'childlike' enthusiasm for his craft, 'even at age 90 plus.'
The painting (the first in the series that Hussain is planning, to be showcased in an exhibition, March end) took a turn Hussain hadn't envisioned. "I requested him to paint himself in the canvas, along with me," Amrita says. "He has done self portraits before. And he actually agreed, so the work is a canvas within a canvas!"
"It wasn't planned," Hussain admits. "She requested that I be in the painting. So I painted it in this way."
Before Amrita left Dubai, she was gifted a brush by the artist. "I'm very selective, I've done this (given brushes as gifts) to maybe four people in my life," Hussain muses. "I had given Madhuri one, I remember. And I gave one to Amrita. You see, her silence speaks... in her film, her acting reminded me of (Hollywood's) Meryl Streep."
He carries a brush with him, imported from France. The brush is considered his style statement,"  says Amrita. "I just remarked on how elegant he looked with it, and he gave it to me. Then I had tears in my eyes..."



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