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January 13, 2017

Reasonably audacious — documentary on multifaceted Feica screened at T2F


January 13, 2017

“A lot of anger, some study of the type of paint used to create murals and a one-and-a-half litre of thinner, costing around Rs160, was all that was needed to restore the defaced walls of the Karachi Press Club,” said an energetic Feica as he went on to explain the much appreciated exercise carried out by him to revamp the walls defaced by a group of people, this past week.

“I am not associated with the people who painted those murals initially, but it was absolutely pathetic to see those slogans on them...So I asked my children if they would help me with the cleaning tomorrow, but they were the ones who asked me to head to KPC right then,” he added on.

This lively conversation with the artist, moderated by renowned journalist Munazza Siddiqui, was held at The Second Floor (T2f) at the screening of a documentary based on the artist - although named Rafique but known by all and sundry as Feica.

Titled ‘Feica vs Feica’, the documentary featured two sides of the artist, one who questions and the other who receives answers from his own self. The film was directed by filmmaker and journalist Faisal Sayani.  

Often dubbed as impulsive, Feica’s timely move to restore the walls bearing murals of iconic Pakistani women right after they were defaced by workers of the Pakistan Sunni Tehreek (PST) and Tehreek-i-Labbaik (TLY) bore witness to the fact that his actions echo of responsibility.

For those who have known the Feica associated with the Daily Dawn for over two decades, the film didn’t come off as something novel, but those who have known him through his cartoons and caricatures were in for a shock as it managed to capture the rawness of Feica as an artist. The documentary talks about his travels to Europe and United States as well as his anger, which he believes fuels him greatly and gives him positive energy, be it for his work or any other thing. “Once I stepped out of my office and saw this crane picking up cars, I just jumped onto the car and started shouting at the top of my lungs, and I kept on till the man whose car was being taken away came to retrieve it.”

Speaking about the film, Sayani said he had decided upon making a film on Feica right after his first meeting, however, the director candidly accepted that some of Feica’s opinions were too honest to be included in the footage.

When asked about an old man and a girl drawn at the corner of all his cartoons, Feica explained that the caricature signified the silent spectators in our society: “The character evolved with time and the little girl alongside him signifies my daughters, who too have progressed, because earlier the girl held a doll in her hands while now it’s a tablet.”  

For an outright supporter of democracy who had had to endure two tenures of military dictatorships, namely General Zia-ul-Haq and General Pervez Musharraf, it was obvious that Feica was not a fan of the institution, but was acknowledging of the fact that their tenures inspired him to produce some his favourite characters. “After all they ruled for 10 years,” he laughingly added.

Turned out the nimble-fingered cartoonist’s mind worked even faster when it came to satire. An example of that was his reply to someone asking him the flight duration from Karachi to Dhaka “I said ‘six pegs’ but many don’t get the reference which hinted at Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s Six Points, and a former dictator of that time.”

When asked if he ever felt intimidated due to his daring cartoons, he said quoting his former editor that ‘What’s the use of a cartoon if it doesn’t cause uproar?’

Recalling whether any of his cartoons got him into trouble, Feica said he had no regrets and was happy that he was given liberty with his work.

“A few months before General Zia’s unfortunate accident, I had drawn a cartoon showing him on a flying carpet except that his carpet malfunctions, and I was later questioned by the authorities for it.”

Sharing some of his other endeavours, he said that he was trying to revive pocket cartoons – one column cartoons - which used to be popular in the past but were now close to their demise.

“I have seen this society evolve from a progressive one to a close-minded one, but I think there are people who still idealise art and know it’s worth, because artless societies are doomed to fail,” the artist concluded.