Guided By Flashlight

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It was the camera flashlight that gave him a vision of his career. Umar Mukhtar met a young man, passionate about camera and photography, who has already worked with dozens of film and commercial projects in the last five years

Guided by Flashlight - Umar Mukhtar - Pulse - Tassaduq Hussain Baba - Dargah, Srinagar - Cinematographer - Kashmir Life - Issue 04 - vol 11 -

Tassaduq Hussain Baba, 28, a resident of Dargah Srinagar works behind the camera and gives the imagination a real existence. He is a cinematographer.

Inquisitive since his childhood about the visual medium, Tasaduq has a very vivid memory of that day when he was first time exposed to the camera. Around a ten-year-old boy then, Tasaduq was attending a marriage function at some relative’s home, when the room was suddenly awash with a sudden flashlight. A cousin of Tasaduq was clicking pictures of the newlywed couple. “Everybody there requested the boy with a camera to click them,” he remembers.

Even Tasaduq was not acquainted with the name of the device his cousin was holding in his hands- camera, but the flash triggered something inside him. Instead of getting himself clicked, he wanted to click others. He pleaded his cousin to show him how to operate this device. Hesitantly he gave it to him and showed him some operational instructions. “Camera used to be a prized thing those days,” he said.

A little hole (viewfinder) and the capture button were the things Tasaduq was allowed to touch. “My cousin became the subject and asked me to click his photograph,” he remembers. “This is all where it started.”

Later when the negatives, the film roll, were developed, all he was looking for was ‘his clicks.’ “It was a magical experience for me at that time,” Tasaduq said, still amazed over those moments. The same day, he told his father, a government employee, to get a camera for him. “A ten-year-old kid asking for a camera was an unusual demand. Most kids used to ask for some other things like cycles, video games”

A few days later, Tasaduq was presented his first camera, a Yashica brand, by his father. “I cannot express the feeling I had that time.”

With the prized possession in his hands, clicking photos became a hobby for Tasaduq. Usually, nature and insects used to be his subjects. With passing time, photography became his passion. Clicking photographs apart, Tasaduq started reading and researching a lot about the camera from books and magazines.

“I started to learn more and more about camera and editing,” Tasaduq said.

In 2007, he joined a local cable channel. There, he used to do camera and help them in editing the content. Though he was working at a small level on the experience front, he turned out to be outstanding.

Finally, he decided to get into the visual media for which he had to study formally. So Tasaduq pursued a master’s degree in mass communication and journalism from Islamic University of Science and Technology in 2015.

Soon after completing his masters, Tasaduq got chance to work in Bollywood movie Bajrangi Baijan as an assistant. It was totally new experience for him. “Professionally and morally this experience was a booster for me,” Tasaduq said. Then he got a chance again to work in another Bollywood film Fitoor. Prior to this, in 2013, he shot a trend-setting music video Waisay Gulan, a Kashmiri folk song that he had recorded.

To chase his passion and dreams, Tasaduq flew to Mumbai in 2016. In a weeks’ time, he got his first job in Prime Focus, a post-production company, as an editor. But he had not been there to be an editor but wanted to do camera for bigger pictures.  “My heart was somewhere else but to survive in Mumbai I had no other option,” admitted Tasaduq. During that time, he did more than 150 advertisements for Tata Sky and did projects like Jungle Book, Angry Birds.

After his day-shift as an editor at Prime, he started doing night-shifts as a camera attendant and as an assistant cinematographer. After one year of work there, he left Prime and switched to ICASTX where he started working for Alt Balaji as a promo editor. He worked there for Bose, Ragni MMS 2, Kehnay Ko Humsafar, PM Selfi Wale,
Gandi Baat and many other projects.

Finally after a lot of struggle, in December 2017, the first ice-breaking moment project arrived when he got a call from Adani Wilmar Group to work as a DP (director of photography).  Then it did not stop for him, he got work in Amazon– a multinational e-commerce giant as director of photography.

Besides,  he worked for a short film Unbinding, which was eventually selected for the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) festival.

Soon after making his resume stronger, Tasaduq had to come back to Srinagar for some reasons. But his passion and dedication did not let him rest. He worked in a music video Harmukh, as DP. The crux of the music video was to acquaint the viewers with the history of Kashmir. “While in Mumbai, I realised people do not know much about Kashmir.” The video was an instant hit and got millions of views.

After this hit, air carrier Go Air offered him to make an ad for them, which was to be shot in Kashmir. “Later I worked for Adidas also,” he said.

After the digital commercial for Adidas, Tasaduq was part of the team Real Kashmir Football Club, which continues to be the only football club from Kashmir which has played I-league. In the just concluded season, it finished at No 3.

Recently, he shot an ad for ITC master chef frozen foods, an MNC. Tasaduq said there are many other projects in the pipeline, on which he is working. But his target has not slipped away from his mind – he wants to be a major Bollywood cinematographer.

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