1937 A RIDICULOUS OFFER OF RUPEES TWO EACH FOR ENTIRE EDITION,
OF CHUGHTAI’S PAINTINGS BY RAMA KRISHNA BOOK SELLERS LAHORE:
REBUKE BY M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI OVER BANIA PREJUDICIAL ATTITUDE
The two nation theory was ever active in Lahore. Two Art groups operated in the city. One was the Punjab School led by M.A. Rahman Chughtai, which Lionel Heath called as the new and modern school of art. The other was the Bengal School led by its student Roop Krishna. Not only had Roop Krishna learnt things from Abanindranath Tagore, he had even written an article on him by referring to him as “MY MASTER ABANINDRANATH TAGORE”. Roop Krishna and a number of his brothers as well as his father, were Book sellers and Publishers in Lahore. Even today we can see remnants of their shop in the chowk of Anarkalli Lahore. The other representative was Samarendranath Gupta, Assistant Vice Principal of Mayo School of Arts. They all carried deep resentment against M.A. Rahman Chughtai. Today analyst sing songs of the Bengal School as a group of forward looking people, and nothing can be further from the truth. Parochial and single minded they allowed no other art movement in India to flourish in any way.
Our job is to present proofs. In 1937 M.A. Rahman Chughtai was n London and his brother Abdur Raheem Chughtai had prepared an edition of Chughtai’s Paintings. The family as well as the artist were in financial distress. The artist wrote to Raj Krishna from London as to his desire that the Book Sellers buy an edition of 500 copies, of which they will recover the cost by selling only 71 copies. In a number of letters when their was no response, the artist offer of concessional rates went to the extent of offering the book at bare cost of production. In 1928 the artist’s book Murraqqa e Chughtai was sold at Rs 110 for limited edition and Rs 25 for normal one. It would be very normal for a price of Rs 10 at that time. At first there was no response and then an agreement was sent to London for 750 copies to be bought at Rs 2 each. This was not even the cost of production of the book. The irritation of the artist knew no bound and he wrote a letter in which he says:
“I have just received your agreement, which was quite useless for me and therefore have torn it without hesitation…..and under no circumstances we can ever agree according to terms…. practically impossible for me to make a deal with you.”
A number of books by Roop Krishna and his wife Mary Krishna were published by Rama Krishna, and that is another story, and we will tell it soon. Suffice Roop Krishna no longer felt happy here and left for London, where he died in 1968. A sad end! The complaint of his life was that the people here knew nothing about art and there was no art appreciation. True in some ways but not in all ways.