A photo exhibition of polo showcases the glorious past of the game

Polo must have started in Manipur, but it somewhere got lost in between and was brought back to Hyderabad by Vikar Ul Umra. Vikar Ul Umra is also known as the father of polo in Hyderabad. Polo is the talk of the town these days, but, this isn’t about polo or when and how polo was played or brought back to the city/country. The on-going photo exhibition at Muse Art Gallery, curated by Kaali Sudheer, chronicles the polo scene in Hyderabad from the time the city had 17 polo grounds to having been left with just one.

The photo exhibition showcases some rare photographs of polo players during the Bristish Raj in the city. Of which some of the players were Hyderabadis and the families preserved those photographs for posterity. “But these were not of the size which is hung on the walls of the gallery. The project took me close to one year and final product makes me and connoisseurs of polo happy,” says curator Kaali Sudheer who curated the show with Chaitania Kumar’s help.

The project involved transforming photographs a little bigger than the size of the small matchbox to its current size “which is 4ftX4ft and reproduce them on canvas instead of photo print paper,” says Sudheer.

Sudheer says he stumbled upon the idea when he visited for the first-ever polo match in Hyderabad. “Which was a year back. There as I sat and watched the match progress, I thought of getting into its glorious past in the city. Internet search led to many things and then once I had my plan in mind, I approached Siraj Attari, who is the steward of the Indian Polo Association. Siraj and I met at the Bison Polo grounds and he gave me the lead on the families I should approach to proceed for the project,” says Sudheer. Siraj, Sudheer says spoke of five families who were a part of polo in Hyderabad. “Besides Siraj Attari, he met Hussain Ali Khan, Darius S Chenai and M.A. Fayaz Khan. While I was excited seeing the photos, the size was a hindrance,” he quips. But nothing is impossible with the help of technology. By using infra red cameras the small photographs were clicked and re clicked upto 14-15 times to obtain the present size and yet maintain the quality of the photos and the clarity.

On display are photos of friendly matches and polo teams. There are photographs of players like Ali Khushru Jung and players from the Paigah family who were avid polo players. The search also threw up stories of Col, Shah Mirza Baig who was the 9 handicap (world ranking) at the age of 31.

These photos are not for sale and will be returned to the families who gave the original photos. The show ends on September 22.

Keywords: PoloVikar Ul Umra