In late 1980s, the Bollyhood cinemas of 1950s and 60s introduced me to this paradise on earth during my early teens. Since then, Kashmir was imprinted in me as the most scenic and serene location on earth with the imagery of houseboats on Dal lake, snowcapped mountains, the unimaginably exotic valleys and the charming people.
However, my visit to Kashmir as a young man was a mixture of skeptics and excitements. Along with my regular luggage, my well-wishers, to cancel my trip, forced me to pack the possibilities of mishaps, accidents and insecurities that they considered as a part of Kashmir. However my conviction to visit the place of my childhood fantasy was more intense than the discouragements I received from others.
True to my teenage fantasy, Kashmir still was as beautiful as my memories of the flickering images from the Bollyhood cinemas. However, the visuals of residues from violence, regular crackdowns in downtown and barbed wires confirmed the political instabilities and a strong sense of discomfort in the air. My realization of Kashmir as similar to Kathmandu in the context of warm people, their surroundings and their fate made me feel intense of this place. Even some parts of visuals were reminiscent of back home. But the strongest discomfort I felt was that the never-ending conflicts and the sense of lost identities seemed to have numbed the people of Kashmir.
My artwork is an outcome of this strange yet very strong emotional connection with Kashmir and her people. The “shikara” as an image satisfied me with its metaphorical lineage to Dal lake and the people, the props from old Hindi movies and the most importantly-the freewill of people. Barbed wire as always makes discomforting presence. The work is a tribute to the people of Kashmir for their hope for the best future.