FAMOUS: Akbar Padamsee who died at 91 years at Sadhguru’s Ashram in Coimbatore was an outstanding authority on colour.
By Rajan Narayan
Akbar Padamsee was no doubt a great painter. But what nobody mentions is that he was also a womanizer! He specialized in seducing women whose husbands were his close friends. His name should be added to the Me-Too list which has become famous for rich, powerful men, who prey on women single or married, another man’s wife…
LAST week the husband of my first wife Bhanumathi passed away. He was 91 years old. The age gap between them is over 30 years. Bhanu was my first wife, she became Akbar Padamsee’s second wife after I granted her divorce. Akbar Padamsee enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best painters of India if not the world. His paintings sell out in the famous auction houses of London. Apart from being a much awarded painter the late Akbar Padamsee was also an extremely rich man who could afford to study and stay in luxury in Paris for more than a decade. He was the son of Sultan Padamsee, one time exclusive manufacturer of vacuum flasks. Among his equally famous brothers were theatre man Alyque Padamsee, advertising giant and producer of plays like
Jesus Christ Superstar’ andEvita.’
Now to tell you a story about marriage and extramarital sex. I got married when I was about 30 years. I was about 20 when my father walked out on us claiming he could not put up with my mother’s nagging any longer. It was a far from ideal marriage. She was the only pampered, self-centered, daughter of a very rich doctor in Trivandrum. Though my father had a BA in literature he was not very sophisticated. His family claimed to be wealthy. But most of the wealth was under dispute as the communist government had taken over the land of the landlords in Kerala. My mother’s family did not know this. That my father’s only source of income was that of a lower division clerk in the army.
My mother, who thought she would be living a lavish lifestyle, was in for a disappointment in marriage. She expected to be gifted a lot of jewelry, silk sarees and other presents. She expected that she would have domestic servants to take care of the “palace” which her husband would provide for her to stay. Like the girl who carried eggs to the market to sell while shaking her head lost in her dreams, all my mother’s dreams were also shattered after she married my father.
Worse was to follow. She had grown up reading the romantic “Mills & Boons” fiction her generation thrived on. In these books, the prince always married a poor girl and treated her like a princess. The books were about tender love and romance. It was all about holding hands and smiling at each other, showering chaste kisses on cheeks. The most these romantic fairy stories would go to in the 60s was a kiss on the mouth. There was no question of touching the heroine’s breasts or private parts till after marriage.
Alas, the reality was that my father was a completely uneducated man when it came to sex. He belonged to a feudal family in which women were considered as the property of the husband. There was no question of an equal relationship with his new bride. Indeed, bride and groom did not meet alone till the marriage night. My father knew nothing about courting. About gently preparing his bride for deflowering her virginity. He did not know anything about wooing his bride. Or preparing her for the act which her mother and friends must have told her would be a very painful event. So my father did nothing to remove the fears of his wife with tender loving care. It was a clear case of marital rape.
Indifferent to tears, screams and protests, the sex they had was brutal insensitive and short. It was limited to taking away her virginity. Now you may as well ask how I learned all this? Instead of the beautiful home my mother expected to stay in or her husband’s ancestral estate, my parents had to move to Pune where my father worked as a lower division clerk in the Defence Services. All he had was a small one-bedroom quarters by way of accommodation. It was actually just one hall with attached kitchen and toilet. As the children came along we all slept in the same common room. So we could not help but be witness to the brutal rape of our mother night after night. Whether she wanted it or not, whether she was in the mood or not — he was the lord and master and claimed his male sexual privileges.
Which is why perhaps I developed very strong feelings about sexual relationships in my own life. Feelings which followed me as I grew up and got married to my first wife Bhanu. I swore I would never force myself on her. I would always ensure that there was enough foreplay before the sexual act. Even earlier when I had girlfriends I was even afraid to hold their hands. Much to their amusement I would ask for permission to hold hands on a date or outing.
I was approaching my 30s, my father had walked out on us and I had fulfilled my family responsibilities of looking after my mother, buying a flat for them, getting my younger sister educated up to her Master’s, finding her a job as a lecturer and even arranging her marriage or rather encouraging her to elope with a friend of mine. It was my sister who suggested I meet this student of art from Nagpur, the RSS Headquarters, who she said wanted to get married.
Since I was single, I could at least consider meeting the girl who was in her early 20s. After a lot of persuasion I agreed and told my sister to bring her along to my office at the `Mirror’ magazine where I had a cabin to myself as the Editor. Normally after 6 pm my cabin turned into an impromptu bar where friends dropped in for a drink and talk. This was the scene into which Bhanu and my sister walked in. I chased away my friends and took Bhanu to a rooftop restaurant at Churchgate Station in Mumbai. We did not converse with each other. We interrogated each other as though we were criminals. At some stage I decided it was not worth it and got ready to drop her off to the residence of her relatives with whom she was staying.
Half way I stopped the taxi at a bar to find out how she would behave after a couple of drinks. She did not object to the idea and we had a few beers. Then we decided that we might as well get married. If it did not work out, we could always get a divorce. Over the next few days we did a lot of cuddling. The flat of my old friend Dr Mukesh Batra in Bombay used to be available to me since he and his wife were away practicing. So we had access to the bedroom where we explored each other’s bodies.
By mutual consent we decided we would leave the final act of intercourse after marriage. I got married in Nagpur at Bhanu’s parental place. A honeymoon had been organized at the Forest Guesthouse nearby. Both of us were very keen to rid ourselves of our virginity. I tried everything but I did not know how to complete the final act of penetrating the hymen marking the loss of her virginity. I was not even aware what the hymen was. An exasperated new wife asked me to get a copy of the Kamasutra. The truth is I never succeeded in satisfying her sexually. Even though in material terms I gave her everything I had.
I funded her education to complete her BA in Fine Arts at the J J School of Arts. After a few years we moved to Goa where she met my friend Mario Miranda. I managed to get her a scholarship to spend a whole year visiting art galleries in Europe. Even the generous allowance she used to get from the sponsoring agency was not enough and I sent her hundreds of dollars through visiting friends.
Bhanu went to Baroda to do her Masters in Art. She returned to Goa but in the early years we were married in Mumbai she had developed an relationship with famous painter Akbar Padamsee. Not just developed a relationship but she started sleeping with him. She was so brazen and insensitive, that she even came home and told me why I could not perform in bed as well as her painter friend. This hurt my male ego. At that time of course I was not aware that the painter had a reputation for being a serial seducer of women. At that time I did not know that he considered himself an expert on the Kamasutra. The Kamasutra is the Hindu classic which not only teaches the basics of sex but demonstrates more than a hundred positions of copulation including having sex standing on your head. The pictures in the Kamasutra have also been turned into sculptures at the Khajuraho temple in Madhya Pradesh.
WOMEN RIGHT TO ORGASM
ACCORDING to Indian tradition and even in countries abroad only the men believe that they have a right to orgasm. Which is the release and satisfaction a man gets when an act of sex is fulfilling and satisfactory. In India in 80 percent of cases woman perceive sex as a duty and may not even aware of the pleasures of an orgasm. Not because they like it or want it at a particular time. Imagine you have to spent the whole evening cooking for guests and being very tired afterwards. The husband has been drinking and the moment he gets you in the bedroom he jumps on you like a wild beast. He is only concerned with his satisfaction. He is not worried about how tied the woman may be. Whether she is in the mood for sex or not. He is totally indifferent to satisfying his wife. Very few woman in India are willing to experiment with oral sex. Though oral sex is perfectly respectable and engaged in with mutual consent between two partners. Anal sex too is a matter of mutual understanding.
Which brings me to why I am baring open my life and writing so much about sexual relationships. I did not realize that my wife Bhanu was highly sensual and was a modern girl who expected equal satisfaction during sex. She had no inhibitions about trying any kind of sex. But with me, because of my memories of the rape carried out by my father on my mother, I had no courage to even ask her to engage in oral sex with me. My one big failure as a man is I could never give my wife Bhanu an orgasm (her accusation in one of our confrontations).
In fact ask most Indian women and they will confess dissatisfaction vis-à-vis orgasm. The husband of course has little patience and once he is satisfied goes to sleep. No man can call himself a “mard” unless he is equally willing to satisfy his wife in bed. A good husband should be more concerned about his wife’s orgasm before his or both should be mutually achieved. Indeed, there are few husbands who indulge in oral sex on their wives though they insist or expect their wives to perform oral sex on them.
It took an English girl who had fallen in love with me to realize how important it was to satisfy your partner. It was the first time in my life that a woman openly expressed satisfaction and gratitude for fulfilling her completely. She said I’d been very good in bed and she came to orgasm several times because I was more concerned about her than me! It is more important to learn about sex before getting married than getting trapped in a sexless and loveless marriage where a wife is treated as sex object in the bedroom.
Akbar Padamsee is highly praised as an artist and much of it arguably justified. But I find it intriguing that none of the women he seduced have ever spoken up about his womanizing ways. Great painter he may be but rumor has it that he was also a serial seducer and exploiter of women. I was not the only victim to be treated to Akbar’s expertise when it came to having sex with my first wife Bhanu, who spoke of the Kamasutra and even tantric sex every time we engaged in sex. She educated me about the difference between having sex with me and having sex with Akbar Padamsee. So I have never been able to figure out why Akbar Padamsee has never figured in the #MeToo list of women’s experiences with men who demand sex as a reward for giving a woman a job or teaching her to write a poetry or painting. May be the women he seduced were so enamored by him that they did not complain or make it public. There of course must also have been the fear factor. The Poet or Artist or Journalist as in the case of Tejpal and Akbar could ruin your career and reputation. In the case of my wife obviously she found a better partner who not only had a lot of money but could also satisfy her in bed. Women preferred to be one of his mistresses than be faithful to their own husband. Or may be his mistresses were attracted by his fortune for it is said money is a terrific aphrodisiac like nothing else.
As far as I can remember Akbar Padamsee owned not six flats but six buildings in Mumbai. When Bhanu went to do her Master’s in Baroda he bought a three-bedroom flat which became their love nest. Post-the demise of the artist in an article in The Indian Express a woman writer praises the artist to the high skies. She mentions that he was fond of drawing huge paintings of couples and critically attributes this to his interest in geometry. The couples he painted were the women he slept with. He sold a painting depicting him with my former wife Bhanu in the nude for Rs10 crore.
The last straw was when my then wife Bhanumathy came to Goa on a sudden visit. She told me that her appendix was causing a lot of pain. She wanted to get an operation to performed to remove the appendix. The appendix is a organ whose removal does not harm the person. I believed her and admitted her to the Raikar Hospital in Tonca. The day before the operation I accidentally met the doctor when I was doing some shopping. She asked me whether I was sure I wanted to go ahead with the abortion. It was only then that I realized that she was aborting Akbar’s child and it was not a case of appendix. It could not have been my child because we had stopped having sex long ago.
WOMANIZERS, PLAYBOYS, PHILANDERERS!
FOR goodness sake the male breed is not new to us. That men like to be womanizers, playboys, philanderers, Casanovas and what not when it comes to sexual trade-offs is not a new phenomenon in cinema, art, literary or political circles. Also, consider women who’re quite happy once their sex-hungry sugar daddies grow old and leave them as young widows free at last to do what they wish to do to outgrow the shadow of their famous husbands!
Say the much appreciated late artist Akbar Padamsee was known for his glad eye and he didn’t think twice before seducing a poor unhappy artist married to a poor unhappy journalist. Such examples are manifold in our upper crust stories of lives and lifestyles. Money and power make for a great combo in the game of seduction, no matter how it ends, in comedy or tragedy? Call them womanizers, seducers, playboys, philanders, Casanovas, even Valantinos and sometimes Romeos…they are legion abroad and in India.
In India think of a lusting Raj Kapoor in some Hindi film seducing his heroine Nargis with the argument that men desire her for her “shareer” (body) and not her “atman” (soul) – he of course desires to take her to bed for her soul! Cinema in India is replete with reports of stars ever happy to celebrate their manhood with a score of heroines or more. All in the roll-call of womanizers and the list can be quite exhaustive in Bollywood or for that matter in any world of cinema and theatrics in India or abroad.
In the world of art, literature, media too we’ve heard of extraordinary sexual accounts to do with men of latters and Indo-English poets from Don Moraes to Nissim Ezekiel to Russy Karanjia to Vinod Mehta and in more recent times we’ve been reading about media world’s Tarun Tejpal (of Tehelka fame) and journalist-author with a mega ego and vindictive spirit when exposed by the #MeToo movement, MJ Akbar .
In the royal world of old we’ve read about Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala with his harem of women and who reportedly sired 88 children across the world and courtesy five wives? There’s reams and reams about Jack Kennedy, Robert Clinton and their horny ways with women famous or infamous; many politicians are oftentimes connected with extramarital relationships in tinsel towns Hollywood, Bollywood, Tollywood, Mollywood. Who’s not heard of Hugh Hefner of Playboy magazine fame being constantly surrounded by young women fluttering around him for a break in their personal or professional careers. Is sex always a trade-off for material goodies or materially richer lifestyles or even marriages of convenience? Not necessarily but oftentimes this is true.
We see it over and over again. Women with ambition burning in their heart or misery dogging their lives do fall for a host of lover boys as a means to get out of the misery of their lives, seeking “salvation” on the lap or feet of wealthy sugar daddies across the spectrum of society and of course, in India we know who our sexy godmen are! Women are not above calculatingly using men as stepping stones to better their prospects in life for material and immaterial gains. So do we condemn them or clap our hands and say wah, wah, taliyaan?
Undoubtedly, it’s because of all this that we have seen in recent years the #MeToo movement take off with women spilling the beans about how men used them sexually to give them a job or keep their job or made their life a nightmare or hell on earth along the way of seeking a career or a profession where men dominate the scene and call the shots. Men who trade in sexual relationships whenever or wherever women are vulnerable or even interested is not news anymore but there is no reason why if there’s a #MeToo for women there cannot be a MeToo for men too, is there?
— Pankajbala R Patel