Skip to main content


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


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

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

  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.

    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.

    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


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


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

FILM REVIEW: West Bank Story a live-action short film (2007)

Published in The POST May 17, 2007

Directed by:Ari Sandel
Written by: Kim Ray and Ari Sandel
Duration: 21 Minutes
(An official selection of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival)

The Middle East is better known for staging violent uprisings, certainly not for inspiring comedic masterpieces.

Since 1967, the West bank has spawned a surge in Arab hostility, frequent visits to the Middle East by Condoleezza Rice and lately, a small little inspirational musical comedy about competing falafel stands, directed, co-written and produced by Ari Sandel (part Israeli, part American Californian native). Since there is no easy way to represent both sides fairly, the very notion of West Bank Story is greeted with a justifiable mix of scepticism, wariness and resentment at first. No doubt, it is a precarious balancing act that mandates such a film to be witty without being offensive, show compassion without discrimination and entertain without losing substance. So does West Bank Story deliver?

West Bank Story

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…

OP-ED: Stargazing at the Awards

Published in Daily Times / 11 Apr 2014

So which one of them is Pakistani?
Some of us were having a hard time putting a name to the music.
All of them,’ said the person sitting next to us, a little reproachfully.
The musical performances? oh that, none of them, he said cheerfully.
He did not seem shocked.

We had gathered that day to witness the 2nd Servis HUM Awards, celebrate the showbiz industry with its requisite fashion parades and indulge in some star gazing at the EXPO Centre, Karachi.

The show had been designed to honour the best of Pakistani music, fashion, film, and of course television. Guests glided across the hall in awe of the décor (flawless) and set pieces (stunning) while keeping an eagle eye on the red carpet for a Fawad Khan or Hamza Ali Abbasi sighting (rare).

Timely adverts running on OSN ensured that a regional audience awaited the telecast with bated breath along-side the rest of HUM fans. The ceremony was not LIVE but Twitter would be abuzz with activity e…

BOOK REVIEW: The Last Sunset — The Rise & Fall of the Lahore Durbar Author: Amarinder Singh

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times under the heading: Lahore Durbar in free fall

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

After the Mughals exited, but before the British arrived, the Lahore Durbar was presided over by Maharaja Ranjit Singh Bahadur, affectionately known as the ‘Lion of Lahore’, who makes a brief appearance in Amarinder Singh’s narrative, but leaves a lasting impression on his history.

Ranjit Singh, who has been described in the book as a great man and an outstanding military commander, was a mass of contradictions. For instance, he was against the death penalty but not averse to robbing widows, believed treaties were meant to be broken but treated the vanquished with kindness, and thought nothing of inviting guests only to divest them of their most prized possession — like the Kohinoor diamond. He may have spent the better part of the day leading military campaigns, yet he did not always harbour territorial designs and is said to have waged a war on hi…

BOOK REVIEW: How It Happened

Published in Daily Times / Sat 9 Feb 2013

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
Author: Shazaf Fatima Haider

Thanks to Liberty Books for the (temp) review copy

Gwendolen: I am engaged to Mr. Worthing, mamma.

Lady Bracknell: Pardon me, you are not engaged to anyone. When you do become engaged to someone, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself . . .”
The Importance of being Earnest (Oscar Wilde)

Characters chasing ‘happily ever after’s’ are often pulled aside by enterprising elders who try to flag all but the most traditional road to the altar. A fiendishly funny narrative pounces on the retreating figure of Cupid and explores his cultural relevance in the sport they call match-making.

The saga of the Bandian clan comes with a perpetually scandalized, formidable old lady fiercely protective…

STYLE: A ‘Haute’ Ticket Item

Published in Daily Times Pakistan (Entertainment Section) / 26 Oct 2013

Your talent will get you far, but your passion will get you further” – Tabassaum

Bath island - turns out, not really an island; it is a place where one can find, among other things Tabassum Mughal’s outlet and her shiny new salon. Her signature piece was featured in Bridal Couture 2013 (BCW) earlier this year. Her collection was later seen on London’s runway. And a bewitched crowd now circles her new line for Eid, drawn by a certainty that behind the closed doors lay the proverbial ‘one’.

They are not wrong. As she unveils a new vision of silk & satin to the world, there will be a constant embedded in that impeccable fashion statement. She has achieved a wonderful hybrid harvested from the rich heritage and decadent flavors that define our poorly misunderstood region.

The person in-charge of these creative coups can be seen flitting in and out of the situation room – otherwise known as the exhibit…

BOOK REVIEW: Escape from Oblivion / Author: Ikram Sehgal

Thanks to the lovely Nefer & Haya for the launch Invite

Published in Daily Times / Jul 21, 2012
Under the title: So You Think You Can Escape?
Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

'In this game there are no second chances. You either win or you die.’

The man who penned these words 41 years ago was busy planning his escape from an Indian POW camp that was not really supposed to exist. Today, as a defence analyst who owns a successful business empire, he sits amiably on a stage flanked by officers from his old command, some well-known personalities from the media, and at least one fiery cricketer-turned-politician who aspires for the premiership. (See Pix Here)

The extraordinary tale of a Pakistani army captain adrift in enemy territory who went knocking at the US Consulate gate and the American Marine Sergeant on duty who saved the day (part of it anyway) appeared in print a few years ago. That, however, was not the end of the captain’s ordeal. What happened in the interval before Sgt Frank A…