Skip to main content

OP-ED: MATTERS OF THE (ART)


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

View Album Here

Comments

  1. A wonderful post by a wonderful person. Very, VERY well writen. Loving those 'watermarks' =D.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All those hours spent aimlessly wandering around in watermark-ville, ..so worth it. Thank you for making my day.

      Delete
  2. The pictures, the event and the way you write is 'awe' inspiring. Your writing skills will soon get you a lot of notoriety well deserved. Brilliant work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much. not sure abt the notoriety part...:) but still. Am truly flattered. Thank you for taking the time to visit & comment.

      Delete
    2. Hi, i just took a looksee at your blog, seems like we were at the same nadia khan lawn event (Flo), I see that you have credited the source for most of the images .. so good 4 u. The rain water pix is from album BTW. Now i watermark all my images but back then i just posted them on my facebook page.

      Here is the link in case you need to verify

      https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.293139304150257.1073741828.177897419007780&type=1&l=e6f9b58c2e

      Regards
      Afrah

      Delete
  3. He is a beacon in these dark, dreary times....to Furrukh!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan: Beyond The ‘Crisis State’ / Author: Maleeha Lodhi

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Published under the title: 17 Reasons to Hope

“History will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, history will have its revenge and retribution”— from the movie, ‘Good Night, & Good Luck’

A region known for most “terrorist sightings”, a place feared for harbouring medieval mindsets next to progressive thinkers and a nation shunned for having an affinity for nuclear toys. By turns a cautionary tale, an indispensable ally and an international pariah, Pakistan does not fit into any mould — for long. But its name crops up whenever things go awry.

Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ is a compilation of articles put together by Maleeha Lodhi that countermands the grim prognosis. When Ms Lodhi, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and UK, acknowledges that “resilience has been part of Pakistan’s story from its inception, obscured by the single issue lens…

BOOK REVIEW: Hira Mandi / Author: Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson

Published in Daily Times Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reproduced on Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson's Website

Translated from French by Priyanka Jhijaria

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

A programme about Hira Mandi did the internet rounds a couple of years ago. It claimed, among other things, that the sons of the ‘dancers’ reportedly end up as lawyers, doctors, artists — a few join politics and some even reach the military. These outrageous statistics may be one of the reasons the documentary was banned from the mainstream media. That and its primary premise — the plight of the fallen women — would prompt the conservatives to howl with dismay before scurrying off to bury any evidence in the backyard along with other bodies.


Claudine Le Tourneur d’Ison embeds such wrenching moments in a bold narrative where its doomed protagonist can hail the brave new world and its genteel patrons from an extraordinary vantage point. The expedition to the underworld with the unfortunate progeny and the hapless…

BOOK REVIEW: Women and the Weight Loss Tamasha

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, February 26, 2011
Under the Title: A Play-book for Losers
Reviewed By: Afrah Jamal
Author: Rujuta Diwekar

Master: “You are free to eat.”

Po: “Am I?”

Master: “Are you?” —
Dialogue from Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Po, the Kung Fu Panda, doubted his mentor/master much like readers will doubt a nutritionist guru when she hands over an exclusive pass to eat and, yet, maintain a strategic advantage in the fight against fat.

They need not.

A thriving industry feeds off of ignorance about weight-related issues. And when health and happiness become collateral damage in the mad dash for the finish line, it is time to alter the game plan.

‘Nutritionist to the stars’ Rujuta makes this lonely trek to the promised land a joyful experience where food is not the enemy, and learning the art of making better judgment calls is on the menu. Since she labels the struggle with weight loss a tamasha (spectacle) at the very outset, r…

OPED: The Great Exodus

Published, Global Affairs Feb 2017

The MIG 21 parked in the Pakistan Air Force Museum Karachi is not exactly a war trophy – it belongs to an Afghan defector who flew by one day and landed at Peshawar air base sometime in 1989 / 1990. He was seeking refuge in Pakistan. There had been others before him. Three decades later, young Afghans are still seeking greener pastures – and making headlines because among them is a trailblazing female pilot who had made her nation proud but preferred to stay behind in the United States while on a training tour.

Pakistan has been doubling as Afghan nationals’ second home for over three and a half decades – hosting some 1.5 registered and 1 million unregistered. It ranks amongst the top three largest refugee communities in the world. The stream of defectors, asylum seekers, migrants and refugees kept flowing while the Reds retreated, Taliban invaded and all through the American occupation.

That surge has been unexpectedly quelled.

There’s a migr…

BOOK REVIEW: Outclass Teams: Secrets of Building High-Performance, Result-Oriented Teams / Author: Qaiser Abbas

Thanks to Possibilities Publications for the review copy

Published by Daily Times / Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Runaway Teams beware. Qaiser Abbas is an organisational psychologist, author of books like the Tik Tok Dollar and the upcoming Leadership Insights — and one canny facilitator who introduced Pakistan to the concept of ‘Management by Adventure’, or as he likes to call it, MBA. His mission of rescuing wayward teams from doom makes him dash in and out of companies on a regular basis. Prompted by the success of such expeditions, he proceeds to refine these insights for a book on team-building and a lecture on group dynamics.

As someone who specialised in using experiential learning methodology in outdoor training, Abbas swears by well-structured one-day team-building programmes over time spent bonding over social activities. His recent book takes an in-depth look at this phenomenon to determine the value of team-building, show the expertise needed to ensure…

KARACHI DIARIES: MASTERCHEF Comes to Pakistan

Published in Economic Affairs / May 2014 P-20

Last year ‘MasterChef Australia’ S04 contestant came to town. Amina Elshafei, described as an ‘unassuming young lady from Sydney’, had been brought in by the Australian High Commissioner’s office and spread the joy of fusion cooking as part of her good-will mission. Around the same time unconfirmed rumors that MasterChef was headed to Pakistan were floating around. By April 2014, the rumors had officially been laid to rest.


‘MasterChef Pakistan’ is set to go on air by 3rd May 2014. The press conference in AVARI (Karachi) threw together an elegant presentation topped off by a divine hi-tea. The MasterChef franchise is already a household favorite, and makes everyone a judge of culinary prowess, and the lead authority on cuisine. Sidra Iqbal, the host for the evening, had also noted this amusing trend, listing Pakistani food as the ultimate source of drama.


His Excellency, the Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Peter Heyworth while …

VIEW: The Man Who Made A Desert Bloom

Published inDaily Times / Saturday, January 01, 2011

By Afrah Jamal

“O Lord! We have crash-landed!” was Hafeez Khan’s first reaction when his aircraft touched down in what appeared to him the middle of nowhere. The plane was one that could land on unprepared surfaces, which is just as well since there was nothing remotely resembling a proper airstrip at that time in Abu Dhabi. Awaiting him was a king with a dream, a desert starved for greenery, and a dusty blueprint of a future that appeared far-fetched.

Today, three things strike first time visitors to the beautiful city of Al Ain — tree lined avenues, roundabouts and the absence of tall buildings. Al Ain, which is the other city in the state of Abu Dhabi, in the past bore an unfortunate resemblance to a gigantic sandbox.

It was not that long ago and Abu Dhabi state had just struck it rich with black gold. But no one could mistake any part of the Trucial state of the 1960s for the ‘garden city of the Gulf’. Khan may have felt that he …