One Under 30: Creative Spotlight – Taj Ali Naqvi

Highlighting young talent in the industry - one creative at a time.

As part of an ongoing series highlighting young talent in the industry, Branding in Asia brings you “One Under 30: Young Creative Spotlight”, a feature focusing on up-and-coming individuals in the ad world.

This week features Taj Ali Naqvi, Director, Films, and Production for Isobar in India.


The Basics

Name: Taj Ali Naqvi
Age: 29
Agency: Isobar India
Position: Director – Films and Production
Hometown: Amroha, Uttar Pradesh
Current Location: New Delhi
Education: M.Des , Film and Communication Design, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.


Six Questions

How did you get your first break in the industry?

A lot of my experiences led me to advertising. I started working while I was still a student at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, where I worked on a Gujrati feature film, “Kevi Rite Jaish” as an Art Director. And then, on a Bollywood film, ‘War Chhod Na Yaar’ as an Assistant Production Designer.

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Both these projects got me into the Yash Raj Studios, Mumbai, where I worked on the feature film ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’, alongside filmmaker Dibakar Banarjee.

I ventured into advertising as the Executive Director and Producer of “Little Anarchy Films” where I got the opportunity to work with reputed clients like Harley Davidson, Wills Lifestyle, Discovery Channel, Discovery Kids, Animal Planet, Philips and TOI, to name a few.

It was there that I Directed ‘Shit People Say: Sarojini Nagar Edition ft. Mallika Dua’, which became a digital viral sensation. Soon after, I joined Dish TV India as a Creative Producer and handled their operation in India and Sri Lanka.

In 2016, I joined Isobar India as the Creative Producer & Director as a pan-India resource. Currently, I’m spearheading Isobar’s film production wing – Orange Candy Films.

What is your personal mantra?

If you go out and do something else entirely, you’d be amazed at where new ideas are hiding out. They’re often where you would least expect them to be.

From what person, place, or thing have you drawn your greatest creative inspiration?

I aspire to produce slice of life films that can entertain the great Indian common man, who is stuck in the daily grind of a mundane lifestyle, and at the same time has an impact on the society for the greater good. That is why I have a lot of reverence for Piyush Pandey, Prasoon Joshi, Dibakar Banerjee, R. Balki, Gauri Shindey and Neeraj Ghaywan, to name a few. Also, because of my love for Urdu, I admire Gulzar Saab a lot.

What do you love about the job?

The people. I have the great fortune to work every day within a population that has thrown convention aside and chosen to live for their passion. Photographers, directors, stylists, crew and talent – I’m surrounded by other artists and am inspired every single day. I love the business and I’m good at it, but over time, I’ve also really embraced and gotten good at the creative side of it.

It’s interesting to me that a Creative Producer’s job description is so hard to encapsulate, precisely because it touches upon creativity, which really means that there is an “It Depends” component to every situation.

And it’s not to say I could write a script to save my life, but I’m a proficient editor. I know when something itches, and I put a finger on it and can say “that frame…”, so it can be discussed. I love working with writers and writer-directors, I find it to be great fun.

And yes, I love being on sets and on shoot locations, which some people would consider ‘time misspent’ but I love it, because if I’m doing my job well, instead of wasting time, I’m ensuring that things are running smoothly, and troubleshooting if need be. A lot of what I’m doing is observing and devising a different perspective on the creative output at the same time.

Thanks to that, sometimes I can address problems even before they happen.

It’s interesting to me that a Creative Producer’s job description is so hard to encapsulate, precisely because it touches upon creativity, which really means that there is an “It Depends” component to every situation.

What is some work you’ve done that you’re most proud of?

To be honest, there can’t be just one. Some of our recent work has been highly appreciated and has won us both National and International recognition. To name a few: the ‘Bruises Can Be Good’ Campaign for Reebok, addressing women safety in India, went on to win at The Clio Awards 2018. With this, Reebok India wanted to extend its message of #FitToFight and ensure that every woman exhibits the fighting spirit.

The Blind Faith Upgrade Campaign for Hotel Ramada, which addressed the issue of hotel accommodation facilities for the visually-impaired bagged us a Clio in the same year.

Another personal favorite is the Adidas ‘It’s on You’ Campaign which aimed at expanding the brand’s community of runners, especially targeting women non-runners.

To add to that, we’ve been handling Maruti Suzuki Motorsports, for which we have mastered the art of producing LIVE films, which are shot in real-time against extreme climatic and geographical conditions every rally season.

In the recent years, these are the brands that have taken a stand have created some of the most memorable campaigns across platforms. The awards and appreciation we got for Reebok’s Bruises Can Be Good and Hotel Ramada’s Blind Faith Upgrade stand testimony to it.

If you had to choose another career what would it be?

I once dreamed of being a famous painter as my inspiration has always been artist like Jackson Pollock and Edouard Manet. My education is in painting & printmaking. I have a lingering desire to spend my days in a sun drenched studio, standing over an etching press. This may seem more like fantasy than a career path, but I feel it’s no more far fetched than photography or filmmaking.


Want to submit your suggestion for One Under 30: Young Creative Spotlight? Feel free to drop us a line: bobby@brandinginasia.com

Bobby McGill
Bobby McGill
Bobby is the founder and publisher of Branding in Asia.

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