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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Indian painter agrees $21m deal
MF Husain
Husain has sometimes been accused of commercialising art
One of India's best known painters has agreed to sell 100 paintings for one billion rupees ($21.61m).

Maqbool Fida Husain has been commissioned by an Indian businessman to create the paintings for a series entitled "Our Planet Called Earth".

It is believed to be the biggest ever art deal in India.

Husain, who is almost a cult figure in the world of Indian art, says he will use the proceeds of his sale to make a mega-budget Bollywood film.

The buyer, Guru Swarup Srivasava, is described as a low-profile Bombay (Mumbai) businessman who was not an art collector.

He says he believes it is a good investment.

"I realised paintings could give me the best returns so I convinced Mr Husain that he should keep his art in India," he said.

"To reiterate my commitment to this cause, I wrote out a cheque during my last meeting with him."

Barefoot artist

The 89-year-old Husain is a maverick who is one of India's most successful artists.

The price of contemporary Indian art is ridiculously lo
MF Husain
With flowing white hair and long beard, he is known to walk barefoot at social gatherings.

But he has often been criticised for commercialising art, with clients such as India's Tata group and Citibank.

He says however that "money means nothing at all" to him and that this was an opportunity to raise the profile of Indian art.

"The price of contemporary Indian art is ridiculously low," he told the Times of India.

Husain plans to splash a major portion of his fee - $20m - on a mega Bollywood film.

"I will... cast all the big names in the industry - Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, everyone," he said.

The painter is no stranger to the world of filmmaking.

His first film, Through the Eyes of a Painter, on the desert state of Rajasthan, won him a Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival in 1997.

But he also incurred the wrath of hardline Hindu groups over a controversial group of paintings depicting Hindu goddesses in the nude.

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