Almost forgot he was CM: Photojournalist recounts shooting Tarun Gogoi

What makes Tarun Gogoi different from other politicians is his simplicity and genuineness. There may be arguments on his works but as a person, I doubt there would be anyone like him.

As a media professional we come across countless politicians that include the chief ministers of different states from different political parties and others, but Tarun Gogoi has always been different.

I’m sure, all my friends from media fraternity would agree to my view.

It was in 2010, we were working on his biography ‘Tarun Gogoi: The Inside Story of a Blunt Politician’. Wasbir Hussain wrote the book and I clicked the photos of the biography.

When I went to shoots, he was the chief minister and I had to cross several hurdles of security barriers. It was surely irritating for us. But once I was with Gogoi, it was a completely different story. His smile and welcoming nature made me forgot everything and immediately put me in a positive frame of mind to work.

I never expected him to understand the photography so much. He got inside me and understood every bit of me. He listened to me and posed as per my needs and the outcome is brilliant. Some of the photos are now widely publicised in several publications.

I remember taking one photo which is one of my best. During an outdoor shot, I insisted Gogoi to adjust his chest button of his blazer and to my surprise his wife Dolly Gogoi stepped in and fixed the button as per my direction. I didn’t let the opportunity go to click the CM and his wife in a candid frame.

Tarun Gogoi was seen waving to the supporters after winning the 2011 elections in Guwahati | Image Courtesy: Anupam Nath

Now, this photograph is widely used. The shoot went on and we discussed several issues. He kept telling me his love for photography, food and so on. I almost forgot that he was the CM of the state.

The striking feature of Gogoi is that he wanted to understand the others’ lives as well. Though he was the CM, he tried to understand a photographer from my point of view.

I almost shot for more than an hour that day. There were several personals including some high-profile individuals waiting to meet him. But he waited till I was done. His professionalism is second to none.

In a similar situation, I clicked some photos for his election campaign in 2016. I brought some traditional attire from my home which were actually gifted to me on various occasions by various tribes and communities.

Tarun Gogoi during a photoshoot | Image Courtesy: Anupam Nath

I wanted to make his photo-shoot look attractive with a touch of Assam’s traditional feel. I told him that I have brought some stuff if he would like to try. He never hesitated and the outcome was fantastic. He was the man who was always open for suggestions and new ideas.

I think this is the reason why Tarun Gogoi is liked by all – irrespective of age, gender, caste, community or party.

Apart from that, what I have observed him is that Gogoi never hesitate to answer. You keep on asking questions, he will continue to answer.

He might get angry, yes, that’s his genuine emotion. In the next moment he would appear smiling and taking forward the conversation.

I think he is a rare breed of politician and the void he left will be difficult to fill in the years to come.

As told to Abdul Gani

About Anupam Nath

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Anupam Nath is an award winning photojournalist with an experience of almost three decades. He works for Associated Press and covers eastern India and neighbouring Bangladesh and Myanmar

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