Sarah Li is an explorer equipped with cameras to film documentaries and shoot pictures that speak for themselves. She recalls the time her grandparents and father spent in Hyderabad. Says Sarah, “It was way back in the Fifties that my grandfather of Chinese origin had come to Chennai during the Civil war in China and got married to my Anglo-Indian grandmother. Later, their Chinese relative who set up a laundry business in Hyderabad invited them to expand the business operations. This did not work out for long and my grandfather invited some of his cousins to set up three laundry shops in this city and stayed at a compound in Himayatnagar.
For the past few years it’s been a home calling moment for Sarah to visit Hyderabad and trace the spaces where her grandfather toiled day and night to make his living. Says Sarah, “My father grew up in Hyderabad and was a student of All Saints School in Abids. He left this city during his teens to the United Kingdom. He used to tell me about the happenings in Hyderabad like kites in the sky, mangoes on streets, ice-cream vendors, toy sellers etc. I was always curious about these dusty tales and came to Hyderabad in 2008. I managed to locate the laundry shop of Secunderabad, thanks to some old correspondence of my mother. It was a different world landing at Nampally railway station but I found that people are the same all over the world. They talk about traffic, politics and food.
As soon as you find something disturbing, as a filmmaker, you want to document it. It’s all about not getting angry at that moment, for your intolerance would be reflected on camera. I decided to make a small documentary Shanghai Dry. It’s about people busy in the hustle bustle of mundane life around the streets working away with a cup of hot tea and chatting about the present socio-political happenings in the country.” Sarah has also set up a photo exhibition of portraits captured in Hyderabad. Photography has been a part of Sarah’s life and she has never lost an opportunity to capture the happenings around her in various cities, be it travel photography including architecture culture, landscapes, portraits and street photography. Says Sarah, “In some of my photos, there are pieces of mirror which have been juxtaposed into each photograph in different positions. This is all about the truth of existence. We all are made of the same stuff. We all come from dust and go to the dust. There is an intermingling pro
cess of existence. When we take a portrait picture, the next moment we start judging it .We all have our own body. How about thinking of being born in the other body which is in front of us in the form of a portrait? Rumi said, ‘The beauty that you see in me is a reflection of you’.
Sarah loves Hyderabad’s food and always moves with her camera. “Charminar is the icon of Hyderabad. Old city makes you feel that you are going back in time. Wafers, Chips, Chocolate, Chai and spicy food. Back home, I can’t have this fun and adventure with things becoming more modern. Youngsters should have confidence and trust in their work. Do own research and pay absolute attention to details,” she signs off....