Published in Daily Times (Pakistan) / Wed 17 April 2013
By: Afrah Jamal
Thank you Mr. ZK for the invite
Two distinct narratives are at play: one is reflected in the glossy surfaces that adorn the narrow hallway; the other is more subtle and concerns the boy behind the lens. At some point they converge and their combined power lends added poignancy to the proceedings. With a few well-directed clicks, Furrukh Mughal has brought the inscrutable heart of the city to joyous life.
The 16-year-old photographer may be physically challenged but he is also a fighter, refining the essence of life and charting new pathways to success. Granted he is different, but different in this context also refers to his exceptional spirit and poetic vision.
Furrukh Mughal (C) with German deputy Consul-General (R), Hans Juergen Paschke and Consul General Korea (L) Chang hee Lee, Tabassum Mughal (far back)
An exhibition of Furrukh Mughal’s photographs held at a local hotel in Karachi on April 5, 2013 demonstrated his inimitable style and unique perspective of life. He set out to achieve his dream in spite of the earthly tethers that keep him bound to the chair or that which affects his speech. His proud father and two lovely sisters are never far from his side, always ready to translate or explain his work. The young photographer was seen surrounded by a beaming family and guests, among them the famous painter/philanthropist Jimmy Engineer, the German deputy Consul-General, Hans Juergen Paschke and Consul General Korea Chang hee Lee.
Mughal started his journey a few years ago with his trusty cell phone camera and an idea. Later armed with more decent equipment he wandered the streets of Karachi finding ways to vocalise the range of emotions churning inside those mortal minds. These excursions take him all over the city, past the rushing sea of humanity to the shores of the Arabian Sea, into the busy heart of a marketplace or a V W show at a food street. Or, in some cases, his own backyard.
The spectacle of imposing architectures and sprawling landscapes captivates the passers-by. Furrukh’s camera sharpens the contrasts and somehow manages to instill a sense of serenity into the fast moving blurs, majestic oceans, and souls that have been cut adrift. The bit players become the protagonists, their tenacity spells out a challenge.
A timeless collection of haunting vignettes that illuminate the human condition, in all its delicate glory comes in focus. The allure of breaking dawn, a droplet of water against a stone backdrop, a determined little woodpecker, who by their account, is a regular visitor to Mughal’s garden. In here is a brilliant artist with an astonishing verve, and a flair for storytelling. Best of all, there is no photo-shop in his vocabulary.
Mughal scouts for locations himself; someone from the family is always at hand reportedly to take him around. Inspiration can strike at five in the morning or at the close of dusk. He has been home-schooled and has no professional training. Mughal went on to master the technical aspects of photography, and in time, grew proficient in the art. Now he can happily critique his sisters’ work and guide them through the process.
Exquisite pieces that value purity and turn unremarkable encounters into memorable moments line the stage. There are recurring motifs of nature, of man and of beautiful monuments that bring an instant sense of appreciation of the infinite wonders around us. The show concludes with a close-up of two very content white lions lost in reverie. It is a fitting end to an incredibly moving experience.
Though the symposium of light and shadow represents a microcosm of society, it can be used as a key to unlock the modern day heart of Pakistan, a land that seen from a distance looks increasingly fragile, and continues to confound. Parallel strands of optimistic overtones run through its troubled arc, a sense of awe overrides the cynicism. The multi-dimensional frame reveals the photographer’s love for beauty and adventure, his penchant for perfection and showmanship, and his understanding of the inherent contradictions of life.
Furrukh Mughal with Consul General Korea Chang hee Lee
In a way they are a metaphor for the artist’s life, a tribute to his indomitable spirit. That he would not give up on his dream despite the fact that the facilities over here are far from perfect makes him the master of his own fate. Tabassaum Mughal, his doting sister, who is also a well known Pakistani designer, believes that here was “a lesson for all kids in Pakistan,” adding that “parents should encourage their children if they are good in anything.” Sanam, his other sister, admires him for being an example for his family.
The subtext is that there is strength in unity and one can move mountains with a loving family at the back. And a steady supply of willpower to get one through the day. The Furrukh Mughals of the world can be catalysts for change, and a wellspring of hope in this uncertain life.
The display only lasted for a day but his sister hints at something bigger planned for the future. Those who missed the exhibition can check out his Facebook page: Furrukh Mughal Photography.
Blur by Me. Thought it looked pretty
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