Kashmir’s international woman artist braves all odds to achieve success

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Patriot Correspondent

SRINAGAR: Hailing from a far flung area of Daksum, 110 kilometer from Kashmir summer capital Srinagar in Anantnag district of South Kashmir, Ruhani Syed a 27 year old Kashmiri woman has braved all odds to become a successful unique artist internationally.

She is also a poet and a singer. She paints and makes an art installation too that has fetched her awards. Interestingly this girl has never been to any glossy school but established herself amid challenges.

While narrating her journey from a ‘Madrassa’ (Religious School) to Mumbai’s art scene, she told Kashmir Patriot that at the age of 17, she ran away from the Madrasa and landed into Mumbai to join a computer course. She says she was crucified and faces abuse and harassment in ‘Madrassa’ that compelled her to run away.

“I was traumatized, severely tortured and had a near death experience which landed me in the hospital for voicing my views against the dogmatic people. While being on my death bed i promised myself never to return to that place. So i chopped my long hair and landed up in Mumbai to join a computer course”, she told Kashmir Patriot.

She said that lacking formal education, she was not eligible for admission in any educational institution so she went to Mumbai for a course in computers.  This was the period where destiny had something else decided for her. She was spotted by a top photographer at an audition in Mumbai who according to Ruhani told her “You have the face of a model”.

Ruhani says that she was “speechless” and felt “liberated” by his admiring comment.  Finally, she was featured in some of the leading magazines like Grazia, Elle, Hi Blitz and Cosmopolitan. She said she worked with India’s leading designers like Rohit Bal, Wendel Rodricks, Satya Paul, Abhram and Thakore to endorse their designer wear brand creations besides being part of Maruti and Grasim campaigns.

Ruhani being a unique artist has been attracting niche audience for her work globally.  However one such assignment even pushed her into the corner while dealing with clients of power and stature she said she was put to constant sexually and mental harassment.

“I had faced a lot due to being a liberated woman in a male dominated set up before this, but the incident put me on the brink”, she said. Still taking it in her stride, she gracefully used the turbulence to her advantage and wrote a song inspired by the happenings with her.

She named it Moorakh Duniya (Foolish World), which is a satire and hilarious take on the egocentric system. Apart from writing the song she is featured in the video Moorakh Duniya that was released by Alex Stein in Tel Aviv recently.

Ruhani said that after the Mumbai journey when she returned back to valley, she faced a lot of opposition regarding her choice of career. “I suffered few physical and psychological threats which put me in a shell where i didn’t leave my room and in those three years i completed my first series of paintings”, she told.

She says that she had converted the pain into art. She says she locked herself for almost three years and worked on ten canvases, a series called tribal chic. This series fetched her an award as the youngest artist achiever of the country.

Ruhani believes that sometimes for an artist the mediums already explored are not enough to express their feeling, so to fill the void in their souls they look for another medium. “Poetry did just that for me. I found deep contentment and solace in writing poems and songs, and soon enough i found myself recording them for a cause. My style of expression is called story telling”, she said.

She writes hard hitting poetry in English, Urdu and Kashmiri. She wrote Mera Watan, patriotic Sufi warrior song released in London, Khuda, an inspirational song made for floods released in Telaviv, Moorakh Duniya , a satire on our society released in Telaviv and Happy Train an art installation for finest malls in Srinagar.

She says that for raising her voice she have received very little support from her own valley. “It’s tough to garner support being a liberated woman in this conservative society which is highly male dominated. Here girls are hiding their tears; hence i am reaching out for the goodness in people outside my community to gather support for my cause and to create awareness against sexual harassment through my music. I would like to believe that i am not fighting this battle alone, and that there are likeminded souls around”, Ruhani said.

An overnight celebrity; From militant to folk singer