To say his death leaves a chasm is a staggering understatement. Indeed, his untimely death shook many to the core. An intellectual giant endowed with a scintillating brilliance, Dr. Farhad Khoyratty was our tutor when we were undergraduate students at the University of Mauritius (2014-2017/ 2013-2016). His riveting lectures stimulated a motivational enzyme within us and it will not be wrong to say that there was a strange magnetism about his classes that no one would even dare to think of shirking. Regrettably, this privilege of tapping into his vast reserve of knowledge through his lectures will be denied to many! Although it is a lamentable fact that the profile of such an erudite figure will never be written about in any history book, his literary works and research articles bear testimony to the fact that death cannot extinguish his very essence.
As students, we particularly enjoyed one of his modules entitled Approaches To The Visual Text which provided us with a ‘new’ lens when watching movies. Farhad (as he asked his students to call him) taught us how films construct the worldview of the spectator and how it is the director who controls the mind of the viewer. He taught us how ideologies are deeply embedded in movies that they appear normal and natural. In this way, spectators are locked into a structure of misrecognition that they accept presented realities and identities that are shown to them in films. Perhaps, this aha moment must be shared when as part of the module, he made us watch the melodramatic Bollywood film Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham in class. Initially, we thought this film merely involved romance and family drama and we must admit that we had watched this movie countless times before. However, following his remarkable lecture post the film session simply left us flabbergasted! That one lecture redefined the way we watch movies now. He not only enlightened us by engaging with the deconstruction of the visual text by applying gender theories to unmask ideologies but more than anything else, he taught us to develop a critical mind.
Despite feats, Dr. Farhad Khoyratty remained humane and humble. His humility did not consist merely in being modest about his intellectual acumen, but in recognising the fact that no one is superior and infallible. He respected the dignity of all. As former students of the UOM, we can definitely bear witness to the widespread prevalence of contemptuous pride amongst many (to avoid generalising) academics. They display an academic arrogance where asking for academic help from them is like asking for financial help. Such a deplorable attitude exhibited by people who promulgate knowledge can only make me shake my head. These academics unfortunately consider themselves as falcons in the sky when in fact they are solitary birds. Farhad’s unparalleled humility undoubtedly made him a rare breed.
Dr. Farhad Khoyratty’s personality was as legendary as his intellectual astuteness. The departed has reached the end of his journey. The rest of us will have to continue walking the weary road and life has to go on. The echo of Dr. Farhad’s impeccable wisdom to his students could be heard in APJ Abdul Kalam’s words: ‘All of us do not have equal talent. But, all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents!’
Zahwa RAMTALLY (Queen Mary University of London)
Humeira RAMTALLY (Westminster University – London)