Seventeen-year-old Namoos Bukhari's frames of the scenic Dal Lake in all its serenity are in sharp contrast to the ever volatile situation that persists in the State.

After so much has been said about the Dal Lake, what's with its shikaras, floating gardens known as rads, Moghul gardens and monuments on its shores and the hillocks surrounding it from the three sides…the nature's bounty here has often captured the imagination of famous poets, photographers and artists alike. What more a 17-year-old boy could possibly have to say, some might ask as a reaction to the exercise — a photo-exhibition regarding the subject — undertaken by the school going M. Namoos Bukhari.

But before you can dismiss it as an amateur project, Namoos, on the phone-line from Srinagar with his tone brimming with confidence, declares it to be a “special and different project” on various accounts. “Firstly, not everybody studies or spends as much time with the lake as I have. The revolutionary 1973 classic SLR camera system-Olympus Om that I have used also gives it certain edge.”

The collection of 23 images to be displayed in the upcoming show, Namoos opines, also steers clear of the clichés — the outsiders have got used to — of the Hanjis, the houseboat and shikara community living on the Dal, shikarawallahs with tourists, the floating vegetable market and the others. “Except one or two, houseboats don't figure in any of the photographs. The focus has exclusively been on the lake evoking its spiritual and purely visual experience. Most of the pictures have been clicked minutes after sunset, capturing its mood and serene surroundings. Hari Parbat, one of the hillocks encircling the water body has not only the shrine of Muslim saint Maqdoom Sahib, it also has a temple of Hindu Goddess and Gurudwara Chatti Padshahi,” informs Namoos, a student of S.P.School in Srinagar.

Playing with aperture and shutter speed, the young lensman shows a sunset time shot of sunlight falling over two shikaras but the third one remaining in darkness. “In the other one, I have shot a shikara heading home. Clicked 10-15 minutes after sunset, the image is imbued with an orange glow,” says Namoos. Three shikaras enveloped in a thick cover of fog and the one in which three boatwallahs having a race against the backdrop of Char Chinar, an island on Dal Lake, Namoos says, have also turned out to be effective.

Leading him on to this path of creativity was no other factor but the creativity itself. “The lake is very close to my house and I would, every evening go for a walk there. And then, one day I found out that my father has this camera and started taking pictures. No psychological pressure of the happenings in Kashmir, formal training in photography ignited my interest in this affair, though later during the course, environmental issues related to the lake also struck me, but it was only for my pleasure that I embarked on this journey,” says Namoos.

Roaming around with a camera in this touristy spot, Namoos remembers questioned by the army about his endeavours. “Dal is the only place which remains open to the public even during curfews and attracts lot of visitors which is why it's heavily occupied by the army. I would always keep my school identity card with me but being just 17 year-old, they wouldn't believe I am seriously interested in taking photographs,” recalls Namoos.

(The exhibition will be on view on July 10{+t}{+h} at Experimental Art Gallery, IHC, Lodi Road, just for a day)


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