My earliest experiments with nudes were disastrous, resembling illustrations for anatomy lessons. I knew then that the nude was the most challenging of all subjects, combining the requisites of portraiture, landscape and still life.
Some pictures in this book go back at least 10 years when the idea of putting together a collection germinated. Three years ago when Penguin commissioned this book, I had no idea where it would lead. The nude as painting or sculpture was okay, it had precedent in centuries of erotic Indian art, but the nude as photograph? It was unexplored territory with implications that were too complex in the confused post-colonial moral climate. If many of the nudes in this book are unrecognisable, it has not always been an artistic decision. Husain could paint Madhuri Dixit nude on horseback but to photograph her like that would be another thing altogether. The editing process of the book was unique too, with the women in it playing an active role and having the last word on whether an image was to be allowed or not. There were moments of heartbreak when a favourite image was turned down. And extreme elation when another got the go ahead.
The fact that the book is a reality is a triumph for all those committed to it, and an acknowledgement of the spirit of the women who are in it.