A Kashmiri by origin, Tariq Tapa was tired of films being made on Kashmir that revolved around terrorism. Having studied filmmaking in the US, he finally made his directorial debut at the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) with Zero Bridge on life and people in state.
"In recent times, every film on Kashmir has had some reference to terrorism. I wanted to make a film on the people and their life in Kashmir," Tariq told IANS.
Zero Bridge, which was screened here Saturday, is about a boy Dilwara who stays in the outskirts of Srinagar with his uncle after he was abandoned by his adoptive mother. Rebellious by nature, Dilwara hates his current life and secretly plans to join his adoptive mother in Delhi.
Zero Bridge has been nominated for the international competition for debutant directors at the 11th Mumbai Film Festival Oct 29-Nov 5. The movie, which stars people who are not professional actors, was completed in nine months. Further, it had no proper crew as Tariq donned the roles of director, lightman, cameraman and editor.
"The film is about the normal people of Kashmir; so I chose among them. I had a tight budget; so I did the lighting, camera, direction, editing and marketing almost single-handedly. My producer Hilal Ahmed and my lead actor Imran Tapa assisted me to some extent," Tariq said.
Kashmiri by origin, Tariq was born and brought up in New York and studied filmmaking in Houston. He has done extensive reserach on Kashmir and its people.
"I was doing this research for years and finally when I decided to make a feature film, the plot was already in my mind," he said.
Interestingly, producer Hilal Ahmed is a travel agent by profession and it was he who did most of the translation from English to Urdu to make the actors understand their dialogues.
"Most of the actors in the film are unschooled and illiterate so I translated the English dialogues into Urdu," Ahmed said, adding that 50 per cent of the dialogues were scripted on the set.
"There was a draft of the dialogues, but 50 percent of the final dialogue were written on set," he said.
Imran Tapa, the lead actor of Zero Bridge, is Tariq's cousin and he never imagined that he would end up acting in a film.
"I am a student and had planned to join our family business. I became an actor by chance," Imran said.
Asked if he would continue with acting and try his luck in Bollywood, he said: "I'm not sure. I won't run around for a chance in Bollywood. If things come my way, I will surely accept."