• Mir Suhail started working with a local newspaper and has today he has become a household name 
His humble background, his long list of friends and his walk down the streets and alleys of old city in Srinagar has groomed him.
Although his cartoons go viral on social media, Mir Suhail also gets hate mails for his satirical cartoons

'Hollywood', the tea shop located in Lal Chowk, the buzzing commercial hub of summer capital Srinagar, is among the favourite hangout zones of valley based journalists, lawyers and activists. Among the many highbrows who sit here and sip tea while discussing burning issues, is also a young cartoonist who gets inspired by the political debates and then sketches out serious issues to disseminate politically relevant messages with a pinch of salt.

It is a daily ritual for  25-year-old Mir Suhail to walk from his home in the Old city's Chattabal and strolls through alleys towards the Lal Chowk ambling his way to the tea-shop. He opens his backpack and takes out a pencil, a drawing book, his cell phone and its battery backup while a black tea is served to the regular customer.

Everyday, Mir listens to people on streets, observes them and asks them about their opinions. "That's how I shape my perception. My cartoons are a reflection of popular understanding including my personal experience about any issue in the backdrop of news," he says.

One of his cartoons based on Edvard Munch's The Scream expresses the political drama during elections in an iconic rendition. In another work, Mir portrays the elections in Kashmir as a mere power struggle without populist agendas where politicians neglect common mans aspirations.

A BFA graduate from valley's only Music and Fine Art College, Mir, today, has become a household name in Kashmir and his political cartoons go viral on social networking sites. He enjoys each and every comment and like on his cartoons. "It's like an acknowledgement, a 'virtual' pat on my back," the 25-year-old says smiling.

Mir's journey as a cartoonist started when he took up a job with a local newspaper for very low salary while pursuing his graduation. A thousand odds could not defy Mir's ambition to choose his passion over seemingly secure career options. When he was in seventh standard, he worked as a salesman in a retail shop and took care of his studies. His mother's spinning wheel also supported Mir in earning livelihood for the family. "My parents always supported me no matter what. They never pressurised me to pursue 'safer career choices'. They knew my priorities," the artist recollects.
Wooing for votes in progress
The young man's cartoons are not just in black and white. He also draws colourful pictures, yet equally stark and most of the times ruthless to many people especially for those Mir terms as 'opportunists'.

"There are promises and there no actions taken to fulfil the promises. Issues like AFSPA, PSA and unemployment are never pursued by politicians after they win elections," Mir says while explaining one of his recent cartoons in which a politician can be seen befooling a common man for votes.

Denying that he always plays the 'victimisation' card, he clarifies, "It is not just the state or the authority which is responsible for a common man's misery. Sometimes, people are responsible for their own actions." In one of his cartoons, a man is shown riding two Shikaras at the same time which represents the man's desire to ride in two boats at the same time.

Mir, however, confesses that since his humour doesn't go down well with everyone, and he gets hate messages as well. "I don't mind it as long as I have  not offended any sensibilities which is not the case in these messages," he says while pointing out a few hate mails. "They are also like a pat on the back," he adds with a wink.

Apart from working in a Srinagar based daily as a cartoonist, Mir also co-founded an online business portal - Crafted in Kashmir - where he designs shawls in an attempt to 'bring traditional weavers and artisans and modern artists closer' to revive the art in his own way.
Difficult choice to make!
His humble background, his long list of friends and his walk down the streets and alleys of old city in Srinagar has 'groomed him', he says. He often walks from 'Hollywood' to his office and chats with street vendors, hawkers and shopkeepers to know their point of views. "I do that for leisure as well. I like to hear what others have to say," he concludes.