Tahmina Shafique The Complete Portfolio

28Sep/070

A romance with theatre

There is an unmistakable spark in his eyes as he runs his finger on the classy laptop that sits on the table full of papers. As the sunlight streams in through the open window, it lights up the face that emancipates a thespian aura. His deep, husky voice blends with his charismatic style. Indeed, head to toe, Mamunur Rashid is a thespian. And much more than that.

Playwright, actor, director, theatre activist, writer, philosopher- Rashid is a man of many avatars. In a career that has spanned more than three decades, he has been ceaselessly passionate and dedicated. Rashid is known for his plays that depict the lives of the common people, their struggles and aspirations, and their exploitation by the rich and privileged class.

His extraordinary acting abilities and zeal for continuing his work remains to be awe-inspiring. Ora Kadam Ali, Iblish, Joy Joyanti, Shonkranti, and Raaraang are just a few of Rashid’s popular plays. He has been a prominent figure in the theatre movement and formation of some of the timeless works. In the last three decades, Rashid has worked on screen, on stage and behind the screen- in each one of these his contribution has been immense.

This week, as I meet him, he is more excited to talk about his recent spur of activities on internet than anything else. ‘I had written a more emotional column in Prothom Alo about how the country and theatre has changed. It was more moving because, my son had just gone back to USA,’ he tells me. ‘The next thing I know, the write-up was translated and posted on Drishtipat, the blog, and you should see the response!’

When I ask him more about this write-up, he tells me, it was about a few questions that keep traveling around his mind and how his son had seen the country. ‘Why couldn’t this generation have a single fond memory of villages, schools or Dhaka city? Instead he witnessed dictator Ershad’s greedy, crazy times. Then he saw a white terror in the name of democracy. Then, he came back home this time to see another time of uncertainty. And I could not even tell him once to stay back.’

He remains silent for a long moment and moves on to talk about his life as an actor. He has an abundance of tales to share, an abundance of experience to speak of, yet he chooses the simple ones like the one that dates back to five decades ago, in the village called Phulpur. ‘The endless fields, empty horizons, the distinct beauty of rain, the open heart of village folk, Jatra- I have beautiful memories,’ he tells me.

Born on April 29, 1948, Rashid had faced financial struggle since childhood. ‘My father was a post master and we had to move from one place to the other, as soon as he would be transferred. Needless to say that, money was a problem in a family of nine siblings.’

Rashid discovered the beauty of theatre when he was as young as ten. ‘I watched Jatra regularly and enjoyed them at all times. I still remember when I went to watch Sohrab Rustam- the memories of that play remain to be powerfully connected to what I later went on to become.’

Rashid tells me it was that very moment that allowed him to understand the magic of theater and it’s power- you could be anybody and you could depict so many things and the persona in it was incomparable.’

At thirteen, Rashid made his first stage appearance in a play at school and the inspiration only grew more and more.

Around 1964, when Rashid came to Dhaka, he had expected to see a spurt of theatre activities. ‘I started searching for a single opportunity to be able to participate in theatre.’ The opportunity came when he joined Dhaka Polytechnic and at the same time wrote a play. ‘It was my teacher who directed my first play Mahanagar e Akdin and it’s success only pushed me more to the world of art.’ Soon, Rashid started writing for TV and there seemed to be no turning back. Some of his reputed TV plays are- Ekhane Nongar, Iti Amar Bon, Story of a Bridge, Somoy Asomoy, Shilpi, Itikatha, Suprovat Dhaka, Danob and Sundari.

As the war began, like everyone else Rashid experienced desperation and struggle. ‘There are so many memories associated with the war and its gruesome nature,’ he remembers. ‘I still remember the night when Shahadat Chowdhury and I travelled from Dhaka to Agartala and stayed there for two nights. As the gun fires became louder, we decided to escape. For that long lasting moment I thought we would die. Later we found a boat with a hole and escaped the horrendous experience.’

As soon as the war ended, Rashid joined Shadhin Bangla Betar and started writing and acting. Like others, Rashid had faced problems trying to be financially stable. ‘Theatre was something we did out of passion, but for that we had to struggle as well,’ he says. In the years ahead, Rashid was an active figure in the Theatre movement. ‘Theatre was always something close to heart. In fact, for me, it is an abiding romance- theatre and me.’

Rashid went on to become the founding member of group Aranyak Natyadal which was dedicated to the stage theatre movement and has achieved outstanding success in the field. Some of the notable productions of this group are Ora Kadam Ali, Iblish, Nankar Pala, Pathar, Agunmukha, Sat Puruser Rn, Jay-Jayanti and Prakrtajan-katha Bale. Apart from original plays, Aranyak Natyadal has also produced a translated version of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.

‘Despite the financial and theatrical struggles in the 80’s, I feel I lived every moment and experienced various abiding moments in my life.’

In the last one decade, Rashid has introduced more of his magic through his work in stage plays like Songkranti (2001), Raarang (2004), Che’s Cycle (2005) and many more. On screen, Rashid continues to appear sometimes as an actor, director and even hosting talk shows.

In his life time both as a theatre activist and philosopher, Rashid has traveled places across the world, met people and known life. As he sits before me in his study, getting ready to write his new play, he tells me his greatest achievement has been in being human and coming close to understanding men from all classes, culture and views.

Rashid has distinct characteristics and that is perhaps what shapes in to what he is today. He says he is simple and full of propaganda. His favorite place remains to be his study and the rehearsal room. And of course his romance is Theatre.

‘Acting is like a child you want to hold on to and nurture,’ he says. He remains silent for a moment and goes on to speak of his son, his ill wife, the country and his dreams.

‘Perhaps the rest of my days will be spent in this deep agony. Because, that time has come in my life— the time of old age when Shamsur Rahman began to regret everything. We will not live to see a good time. That is why I can never tell my son to stay back for his sick mother who needs him to be here. I can’t bring myself to say the words- please stay.’

‘And yet, at the very beginning of this journey, that was the dream we all saw,’ he says.

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21Sep/070

‘My achievements are my little experiences’

If the internationally acclaimed actor, producer, writer and poet, Soumitra Chatterjee ever wrote his biography, it would perhaps be more than about just his career that spanned almost five decades; it would be rather an inspirational tale of struggle and determination, about having extraordinary zeal to develop as an actor, despite the alluring achievements in his life. It would be about his inspiration from the little things in life that sometimes slip away and much more.

In his five-decade career, internationally-acclaimed actor Chatterjee has received the Officier des Arts et Metiers, one of the highest award for arts given by the French government. He also got the Lifetime Award from the organisers of the Naples Film Festival, Italy in 1999. Chatterjee is also the recipient of the Padma Bhushan. He has also been the subject of a full-length documentary by French director Catherine Berge.

Despite such heights of success, on the sunny afternoon that I met him, he tells me he never had any major achievements. ‘If I had achievements then there would be no point in being alive. The day I realise I have achieved everything, I will start decaying, ’he says with a hint of smile.

Even at 73, he does not fail to be exceptionally charming and charismatic. His tall stature, salt-pepper hair and killer smile seem to only add to his elegance. As he walks across the swarming number of reporters who have been waiting for him since early morning, he exudes immense amount of confidence and strength. ‘If I had to say something about my own cinemas, then we would not need viewers!’ he says to those who want to know about his experience on screen.

Like, what the great Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune is to Akira Kurosawa’s cinema or the American great actor Robert De Niro is to director Martin Scorsese—it is said that Soumitra Chatterjee is to Satyajit Ray’s cinema. He has worked in countless films of Ray, all of whom remain to be classic hits. ‘Ray remains incomparable and he was not only a director to me, rather someone I have learnt a lot from,’ he says.

In spite of being a major star alongside Uttam Kumar in Bengali cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, Chatterjee’s is established as an inimitable actor. His journey from young Apu in Apu’r Sansar to the recent roles of a poet have been undoubtedly exclusive.

Chatterjee was born on January 19, 1935 in Krishnanagar, which is about 100 km from Kolkata. His father Mohit kumar was involved in the Non-Cooperation Movement while he was young and later was an established lawyer in Calcutta.

Chatterjee was named after a character in Michael Madhusudan Dutt’s epic poem Meghnadbadh Kabya which his mother Ashalata Devi admired a lot. It was from his parents that Soumitra inherited an abiding interest in poetry and also cinema. ‘I grew up in an environment where art forms such as cinema and poetry were appreciated. My parents, invariably inspired me to pursue my career,’ he remembers fondly.

He spent much of his childhood in Krishnanagar and later in Howra, playing by the river, riding on country boats, listening to the howls of the train.

In 1951, Chatterjee and his family came to Calcutta and he began to indulge himself in the world of Bengali Literature- the subject he studied and loved immensely.

While doing his masters at the University of Calcutta, he began to receive training as an actor under Ahindra Choudhury. ‘I think the greatest struggle in becoming an actor at that time was the financial problem,’ he says. ‘Overcoming that phase and establishing myself as an actor was a huge challenge for me.’

While his interest towards theatre was intense, he had to take up odd jobs to support his family following his father’s retirement. Months before his Masters exams Chatterjee was appointed as a staff artist with All India Radio. Later, he got an appointment at the Delhi station of All India Radio.

His turning point came when he came across Satyajit Ray, who later associated him in countless cinemas. ‘Ray wanted a younger actor for Apur Sansar and for some reason he had me in his mind,’ he remembers fondly. In 1959, as soon as the Ray’s Apur Sansar, the last of the Apu trilogy films was released, Chatterjee had to never look back.

In Apu trilogy, Chatterjee played the adult Apu who has finished schooling but hazy bureaucracy keeps him from getting a decent job. Undoubtedly, the film that dealt with love, tragedy and struggle, Chatterjee lived the character.

While Uttam Kumar and Chatterjee were both legends of the same era, Chatterjee had established himself in his own right- his intelligent looks and multilayered acting style gave him a distinct aura of being the knowledgeable and serious man. Although, Uttam Kumar and he were actors of the same era, Chatterjee speaks of him fondly. ‘There will be no Uttam Kumar on screen again. He was a powerful actor and he cannot be compared with any one at all,’ he says. ‘In fact, back at that time, you could not possibly compare these timeless actors- would you ever be able to compare the powerful acting abilities of Charlie Chaplin? Never.’

The 1960s saw Somitra’s career at its peak. Some of his timeless work with Ray were in fact during the 60’s -Devi, Abhijan, the unforgettable Charulata, Kapurush and Aranyer Din Ratri are just a few of the timeless hits.

Besides his work with Ray, he also worked with the best of Bengali directors like Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha, Asit Sen, Ajoy Kar, and Tarun Majumdar.

Chatterjee also speaks of the film, Jhinder Bandi fondly. ‘That was the first film to star Uttam Kumar and me together,’ he says.

In this historical romance based on the The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) – a Hollywood film starring Ronald Coleman, Madeleine Carol and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Chatterjee played the role of a villain. In fact, Chatterjee was unanimously hailed for his role in that film.

Soumitra continued to be a major star right through the 1970s. While on the one side his fruitful association with Ray continued with films like Ashani Sanket (1973), Sonar Kella (1974) and Joi Baba Felunath (1978), on the other side he also did films like Sansar Simantey, Ganadevata and Devdas (1979).

As he grew older, his talent only developed more and more. ‘I think one of the greatest challenge as an actor for me was to continue developing myself as an actor,’ he says. ‘I had been successful since the very first film, and that was certainly tempting to rest on my laurels, but I constantly struggled to develop myself.’

His shift to memorable roles in his growing age include Kony (1984), a sporting melodrama about a wayward but determined coach (Chatterjee) and his star pupil, the female street urchin, Sreeparna Banerjee, Wheelchair (1994) and Sopan (1994).

‘My achievements in career have been not in the roles that I played but the little things I experienced,’ he tells me as he takes a puff of his cigarette. ‘I still remember the time, when a man in a wheel chair came to meet me. He told me I had done justice to the movie wheel chair and that it looked as though I was that very character for real.’

There is an inexplicable hint of pride and joy, when he speaks of those little moments. ‘I have several experiences like this and all of them are my achievements.’

Chatterjee’s move to newer generation of Bengali directors of the 1980sand 1990s was again an experience for him- his work with Goutam Ghosh, Aparna Sen, Anjan Das and Rituporno Ghosh among others, were once again unique.

The death of Satyajit Ray in 1992 was perhaps the end to the era of their collaboration. ‘He was inimitable and the only one,’ he says fondly.

‘Although there have been some great films made and we have seen an influx of great directors, it is true that it has never been the same,’ he says with a hint of disappointment. ‘The number of movies has also decreased over the years, due to television. We do not have those movie-going experiences anymore.’

More recently Chatterjee was greatly appreciated in the role of an ageing poet who slowly loses his eyesight in Goutam Ghosh’s Dekha in 2001. He also did a reprisal of his character Ashim of Aranyer Din Ratri in Goutam Ghosh’s Aabar Aranaye (2003) – a film which attempts to examine the characters more than 30 years after the events in Ray’s masterpiece.

Apart from the silver screen, Chatterjee has made his mark in theatre and poetry recitation. He made a return to the stage in 1978 and produced Naam Jiban at Biswarupa Theatre. Its success led him to stage other plays like Rajkumar (1982), Phera (1987), Nilkantha (1988), Ghatak Biday(1990) and Nyaymurti (1996). Nilkantha still runs to full houses whenever staged. Special mention must also be made of Tiktiki (1995), an adaptation of Sleuth and Homapakhi (2006).

Besides films and theatre, Chatterjee is also busy with poetry readings, with various books of his on poetry being published as have several plays that he has written and translated.

Soumitra chatterjee has traveled places and continues to learn more. ‘There is more to learn and also the greatest achievements and roles are yet to come,’ he says.

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21Sep/070

Coffee Houser Adda on television

‘Shei shaatjon nei, aaj tebilta shudhu ache,
shat-ti peyaala aajo khali nei,
aki she bagaane aaj, esheche notun kuri,
shudhu shei shediner mali nei,
koto shwapner rod othe ei coffee housey,
koto shwapno meghe dheke jai,
koto jon elo gelo, koto jon-i aashbe,
coffee house-ta shudhu theke jaay’

Decades on, the song still pulsates within the memory of countless people. Almost everyone, at some point, can relate to Manna’s Dey’s classic song Coffee Houser Shei Addyata.

Tucked in a corner of a busy street, as seven friends share endless experiences over a cup of coffee and smoke from endless number of cigarettes spiralling up to ceilings- the sight beckons from every nook and corner, the essence of the Coffee House in Kolkata. ‘It seems like many aspects of the song- the friends, their lives, and their stories have come to life on screen,’ says 45-year-old house-wife Selina.

Indeed, more than fifty years after the establishment of the legendary Coffee House and almost twenty-five years after Manna Dey’s dedication to his favourite place-the story of Coffee House, the tale of friendship, joy and sorrow, has been brought to life on the television screen.

‘It is difficult to justify such a sensitive song through any sort of serial or story,’ says the young director of the TV serial on Channel one, Coffee House, Mezbaur Rahman Sumon. ‘But, there are countless people who associate themselves with this song in some way or the other. This is the reason why we just took the concept of the song and built on that.’

Sumon, who is an honours student at CharuKala, selected each of the characters according to their real life professions. ‘Since the story is based on strong ties of friendship and also the struggles of separate individuals, I picked most of the people around me, who suited each character, in order to bring the natural and raw touch to the plot.’

Although the 26-episode long serial which comes to an end this week has a different plot from the song, Sumon managed to keep some aspects of the song intact. ‘Things like the names, professions, Nikhilesh going to France, Amol struggling, and all the other little details were adapted from the song to keep the flavour of it alive,’ says Sumon.

The role of the seven friends has been played by Apurbo, Joya Ahsan, Afroza Banu, Tisha, Shajal, Milon, Mahmudul Islam Mithu, Dilip, Papia, Sabyasachi Hazra and Shibu Kumar Shill.

Interestingly, Sumon and the script writer Masud Hassan Ujjal based the whole story against the backdrop of present time Dhaka. So, the Coffee house where the seven friends chatted and spend time is actually the Coffee House situated in elephant road.

‘The characters and the content naturally suit the present time and it’s more like the story of young friends in Dhaka,’ explains Sumon.

‘For me, it was easier to act in the serial because Sumon is from CharuKala as well and he knows me and he wanted me to be myself,’ says Shibu Kumar Shill, who plays the role of Amol. ‘I did not really feel that I was acting, rather I was being the way I am all the time.’ Shibu, who is a student of CharuKala feels the story was relevant and has captured the emotions and essence of the song, if not the actual plot.

According to Sabyassachi Hazra, who played the role of Nikhilesh, the success of the serial lies on the ability of the director to bring out the original characteristics of the actors and mould them in to the plot. Hazra, who is also a student of CharuKala works for the Bengali newspaper, Shomokal. Although, he had worked in set design for Praccho Naat, years ago, this experience is very new for him. ‘I certainly enjoyed myself more because the plot was so much like our daily life.’

Despite the inherent success and the sense of nostalgia that it has brought to many, a few do feel that the story was not justified. ‘I felt the story did not do justice to the true essence of the song- the life, the strength in their friendship and the emotions associated with how friends part. Moreover, the set did not have any form of resemblance with the actual Coffee House,’ points out forty-six year old Banker, Jaiyyan Rahman.

‘The truth is that the serial lacked that speed, that colour and life that the original song has,’ admits actor Dilip Chokrobarty who plays the role of Moidul. ‘The story lacked a lot of detail and also interaction between the friends. Although I was a part of the serial, I personally felt it was not at all justified to the essence of Coffee House.’

According to Sumon, however, adaptations from historical stories always attract a lot of criticism. ‘But the truth is that we did not attempt to make another Coffee House, because we knew it would be a difficult task. Moreover, if you look at Devdas- the movie was improvised and made in the present time. True, it did not do justice to the original story but it did bring back the essence and established its own style.’

The original Coffee House located in Calcutta traces its roots to the Albert Hall which came to being in April 1876. Decades later, the Coffee Board decided to start the Coffee House from the Albert Hall with the aim of popularising coffee. As the popularity of the café grew, the management decided to close it down. But the workers formed a worker’s co-operative - something Kolkata had never seen - and took over the running of the Coffee House in 1958.

From that day till date, Coffee House is of historical significance for being the rendezvous of innumerable versatile people. People like Jagadish Chandra Bose, Ritwik Ghatak, Narayan Gangopadhyay, Sunil Gangopadhyay, other writers and editors of the magazine Krittibas have been just a few among the regulars of the restaurant. Several literary magazines owe their origin to the inspiration from the adda sessions at this coffee house.

The coffee house today is famous for its adda sessions, and as the breeding place of several political and cultural personalities and movements. It has also become one of the major tourist attractions of Kolkata. Moreover, the prestige of the Coffee House increased with regular visitors such as Satyajit Ray, Manna Dey, Amartya Sen, Mrinal Sen and Aparna Sen. During the 80’s, when Manna Dey sang the song Coffee houser shei addyata, the fame of the place grew even more.

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21Sep/070

Creating hope

She likes the colours the most. There is an unmistaken spark in her eyes, as her little fingers move through the colourful beads- red, green, yellow, purple and pink.

‘The pink one- that’s the one I made,’ giggles nine-year-old Nasreen.

‘I loved making the collage the best- mine is this one- a big sunflower,’ she says enthusiastically as she points towards the picture hanging on the wall.

‘It’s my day today,’ she says as she runs towards her friends. Indeed, it is a big day for Nasreen and her nineteen friends. Their eyes speak of the same enthusiasm, pride, joy and hope- it’s their very first exhibition.

Nasreen has spent most part of her life on the streets, waiting on the signals, sometimes managing to sell candies and at other times begging.

‘I never held a pencil in my hands before, never drew a flower before,’ she says. Her father, a rickshaw puller, never thought he could send his daughter to a school, let alone, see her work in an exhibition. ‘My parents are proud and so are my siblings who hope to be able to go to school like me someday.’

This past week, as a unique exhibition of these young artists kicked off in the premises of Art Club Bangladesh, it reiterated the meaning of the small school Ashar Pothey, a Streetwise project run by a passionate woman and a group of young volunteers, where these children have been studying, drawing, painting and singing. Startlingly, each of the work of art displayed at the exhibit is intricate, colourful and of great quality.

‘Aparna Apa is the hope and the school is a dream come true,’ says twelve-year old Russel. Until the last one year, Russel spent his life on the streets and he refuses to speak of his bitter experiences. ‘I would want to stay here forever and never go back to that life,’ he says softly.

For all of these children, Aparna Anita Muyeed, the founder of the school and the organiser of this exhibition, is a glint of hope in their lives. ‘She paints with us, sings with us and we have a wonderful time together,’ says seven-year old Nayantara.

It is the works of art that the children did in school that were displayed in this exhibition. The items ranged from collages, T-shirts, greeting cards and bead jewelleries.

‘Making the beads was the best part of the school,’ says twelve-year old Fahima. ‘We made these necklaces, bangles of different colours and designs.’

‘I love drawing a plane more, after all I am not girly,’ says nine-year old Belal, smiling mischievously at the girls.

After a year, since the project has been running, Aparna feels these children are an indispensable part of her life. ‘My attitude towards street children was the same as everyone else’s. I ignored them either because it was too painful or it was not my job to change their lives,’ says Aparna. ‘But one day, I started talking to them. I did not give them money but just talked to them, listened to them speak whenever I met them in the signals.’

Having spent most part of her life trying to discover different fields of work, Aparna felt she finally had found her niche. ‘In a few months, just by talking to them in the signals of Gulshan built a strange bond between us,’ she remembers fondly.

Although she was born and brought up in Paris, Aparna and her siblings were always reminded of their beautiful country. ‘My father loved Bangladesh and it was his dream that his children would return to his country and do something significant.’

After completing college in USA, Aparna moved on to work as a researcher at the Child Study Centre at the medical school of Yale.

‘After coming back to Dhaka, I started working with children as a teacher in ISD. There, I extended my knowledge of art to these children, but deep inside I knew they really did not need me. There was something more self-satisfying that I could do.’

It was during that time, that she met some of these children at the Gulshan signal. Finally during Eid, Aparna and her friend Simeen decided to give them clothes as a gift and asked them to meet at a Simeen’s aunt’s school playground in Gulshan. ‘Surprisingly, they all turned up and it was simply amazing,’ remembers Aparna. ‘After that we decided to meet every Friday and give them food and the space to play.’

The best was, however, yet to come. As soon as more children started showing interest to study with them, they started teaching them informally in the garage of the school.

From what started at a tiny garage expanded into a dream come true. ‘Soon, we moved to a flat in Badda, near the slum where most children live. We started to take classes five days a week, from nine in the morning till five,’ says Aparna. ‘Thankfully, there were volunteers who were willing to extend their support and help this project become successful.’

According to Aparna, the Streetwise project is still in its pilot phase. She also wants to ensure that the school does not focus on becoming an NGO rather simply remain as a school for the children. ‘There is too much bureaucracy in an NGO. Things in a project like this need to be done fast,’ she says.

A unique aspect of the school is its focus on art- a way through which these children express themselves and also a means of their income. ‘Art serves as a valuable means of communication and expression and also serve as a form of therapy without the stigma,’ says Aparna. She cites the example of the use of art therapy both for assessment and therapy of abandoned children in Kiev, Ukraine and many other places which showed how art can be used to capture the imagination of street children and guide them away from substance abuse.

On many occasions, these children would never speak up about the dreadful experiences on the streets, but when it came to drawing they would actually tell their stories. ‘There were cases when they drew kids being beaten by the police and other brutal memories in an attempt to express what they never spoke of,’ she says.

But it is not an easy job to convince parents, especially when the child’s income is a major contribution in the family. ‘Given the situation, it is crucial to make a realistic arrangement with the guardians to ensure that they do not hinder their children’s attendance. For this, we had to provide stipends to the kids for their art work at the school,’ explains Aparna.

‘But it does not always work well,’ she adds ruefully and speaks of Robin, a ten-year-old boy who was a bright addition to the school and was forcefully removed from the school by his parents. ‘Sometimes it’s just too difficult to get it across that this school is going to make the kids self-sufficient.’

Indeed, the sales at the exhibition, which soared on the second day, has brought huge amount of funds for the kids. A large number of visitors, including famous personalities, bought the children’s art work. ‘Fifty percent of the funds raised at the exhibit will go directly to each individual child, from which a percentage will go to their guardians, the rest will go towards driving the Streetwise project further,’ hopes Aparna.

As the children sing a song of their success together, six-year old Babu points at his collage in the form of a plane and screams aloud and says, ‘I am going to make a plane for real one day and fly up there!’

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14Sep/070

The star of the year

As she steps up into the spotlight, her heart skips a bit. With a deep breathe, she moves gracefully across the stage. She is being watched, talked about. She is one out of the thousands of aspiring young women who have come from far flung areas of Bangladesh hoping to bag a crown- to be this year’s Lux-channel-i super star.

This past week, in a glitzy and dazzling show, the final round of the 3rd Lux Channel-i Superstar affirmed that the organisers are taking yet another step ahead towards their focus- to search for a raw talent.

On the third year of Lux and Channel-i’s association, the colour, life and glamour that was added and experimented, was distinct in terms of style and presentation. From the final ten participant’s graceful moves to Ayub Bachhu’s song, to their dance numbers and special appearance by stars like Tinny, Kushum Sikder, Shanu, the cast of Daruchini Dweep, Fahmida Nabi, Bappa Majumdar and many more- the show was exclusive.

What added to the anticipation and sheer excitement to the show was last year’s success story- Mamo and her debut in Daruchini Dweep, written by celebrated writer Humayun Ahmad and directed by Tauqeer Ahmad. The film that has been released very recently, is running successfully and has been appreciated by many. ‘I think this show gives you the kind of platform that not only enables proper exposure but also proper training and a life changing experience,’ says Zakia Bari Mamo, last years’ superstar.

The competition this year was also much more rigorous, as the finalists needed to qualify not only in terms of looks, but also in terms of their acting abilities, dance, performance, style and elegance. The top ten finalists – Ambrin, Alvee, Diba, Faria, Joya, Mim, Nafisa, Raha, Upoma and Urmi, who were before the audience last week at the China-Bangladesh Friendship Convention Centre hall, were handpicked out of twenty-five candidates.

These twenty-five women, who had to undergo an extensive grooming session and training for months, away from home, were again selected from a pool of over thousand candidates across the country by the panel of judges that consisted of Shuborna Mustafa, Tauqeer Ahmed, Sara Zaker and Asadduzaman Zaman Noor.

This year’s super star Bidya Sinha Saha Mim from Comilla is a determined young student who wishes to pursue her career as an actress. ‘We learnt everything from posture, speech, acting, to being a part of the new world we were about to enter’. Mim has already started her first work in Saiful Islam’s Cholona Brishti te Bhiji, a telefilm to be showcased on channel-i.

‘It is still difficult to believe that all of this is true,’ says the nineteen-year-old star who will also star in Amar Ache Jol, written and directed by Humayun Ahmed.

According to the participants and the organisers, the two months of intensive training plays an immense role in the quality of the candidates, to a great extent. ‘I think the intensive training changed us completely. Back at the camp in Manikganj, our day would start at 6 o’clock in the morning with two hours of physical exercise and whole days of grooming,’ remembers Mim.

The girls also followed a long session of choreography, where they are not only taught how to walk on ramp but also how to speak gracefully. ‘After lunch, we would have this Fashion Instructor who would teach us all about fashion and trend. We also had classes on drama,’ she remembers fondly.

The girls attended a two hour class where they were given lessons on acting, how to be camera friendly and other skills of acting. ‘At the end of the day, we would get to know so much and also share a whole new experience with each other,’ says Mim.

Sheikh Samroz Azmi Alvee and Farhana Shahreen Faria were the first and second runner-ups.

Perhaps the longest running talent hunt, this show had started in the form of Lux Anandadhara photoshundari back in 1988. The contest, however, only focused on photogenic qualities, rather than having a regular beauty pageant, at the time.

The process of posting in the best photograph, after which they were short listed by Anandadhara and Lux and finally chosen by a panel of judges, continued for many years.

In a span of just a few years, the focus of the contest has changed completely. Today Lux-Anandadhara’s Miss photogenic has undergone a complete conversion. The brand new Lux-Channel-I Superstar is claimed to be more focused on talent rather than looks only. Its last year’s search of a star for Humayun Ahmed’s Daruchini Dweep set out the criteria rather bluntly—they wanted a talented person, not a beauty queen. Therefore, the criterion for becoming ‘the one’ was much higher and the candidates were required to prove their skills to the fullest extent.

The selection of last year’s star Mamo, who is pursuing Drama and Dramatics in Jahangir Nagar University, perhaps indicated that the organisers were finally looking for raw talents.

‘Just being a part of the contest made us learn things which we did not know about,’ says Mamo. Mamo agrees it was difficult for all the contestants who had to perform an array of roles. ‘We had to be good at everything- be it comedy, melodrama, and even dance.’ Mamo, who grew up learning these forms of art, feels she has been lucky.

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14Sep/070

The star of the year

As she steps up into the spotlight, her heart skips a bit. With a deep breathe, she moves gracefully across the stage. She is being watched, talked about. She is one out of the thousands of aspiring young women who have come from far flung areas of Bangladesh hoping to bag a crown- to be this year’s Lux-channel-i super star.

This past week, in a glitzy and dazzling show, the final round of the 3rd Lux Channel-i Superstar affirmed that the organisers are taking yet another step ahead towards their focus- to search for a raw talent.

On the third year of Lux and Channel-i’s association, the colour, life and glamour that was added and experimented, was distinct in terms of style and presentation. From the final ten participant’s graceful moves to Ayub Bachhu’s song, to their dance numbers and special appearance by stars like Tinny, Kushum Sikder, Shanu, the cast of Daruchini Dweep, Fahmida Nabi, Bappa Majumdar and many more- the show was exclusive.

What added to the anticipation and sheer excitement to the show was last year’s success story- Mamo and her debut in Daruchini Dweep, written by celebrated writer Humayun Ahmad and directed by Tauqeer Ahmad. The film that has been released very recently, is running successfully and has been appreciated by many. ‘I think this show gives you the kind of platform that not only enables proper exposure but also proper training and a life changing experience,’ says Zakia Bari Mamo, last years’ superstar.

The competition this year was also much more rigorous, as the finalists needed to qualify not only in terms of looks, but also in terms of their acting abilities, dance, performance, style and elegance. The top ten finalists – Ambrin, Alvee, Diba, Faria, Joya, Mim, Nafisa, Raha, Upoma and Urmi, who were before the audience last week at the China-Bangladesh Friendship Convention Centre hall, were handpicked out of twenty-five candidates.

These twenty-five women, who had to undergo an extensive grooming session and training for months, away from home, were again selected from a pool of over thousand candidates across the country by the panel of judges that consisted of Shuborna Mustafa, Tauqeer Ahmed, Sara Zaker and Asadduzaman Zaman Noor.

This year’s super star Bidya Sinha Saha Mim from Comilla is a determined young student who wishes to pursue her career as an actress. ‘We learnt everything from posture, speech, acting, to being a part of the new world we were about to enter’. Mim has already started her first work in Saiful Islam’s Cholona Brishti te Bhiji, a telefilm to be showcased on channel-i.

‘It is still difficult to believe that all of this is true,’ says the nineteen-year-old star who will also star in Amar Ache Jol, written and directed by Humayun Ahmed.

According to the participants and the organisers, the two months of intensive training plays an immense role in the quality of the candidates, to a great extent. ‘I think the intensive training changed us completely. Back at the camp in Manikganj, our day would start at 6 o’clock in the morning with two hours of physical exercise and whole days of grooming,’ remembers Mim.

The girls also followed a long session of choreography, where they are not only taught how to walk on ramp but also how to speak gracefully. ‘After lunch, we would have this Fashion Instructor who would teach us all about fashion and trend. We also had classes on drama,’ she remembers fondly.

The girls attended a two hour class where they were given lessons on acting, how to be camera friendly and other skills of acting. ‘At the end of the day, we would get to know so much and also share a whole new experience with each other,’ says Mim.

Sheikh Samroz Azmi Alvee and Farhana Shahreen Faria were the first and second runner-ups.

Perhaps the longest running talent hunt, this show had started in the form of Lux Anandadhara photoshundari back in 1988. The contest, however, only focused on photogenic qualities, rather than having a regular beauty pageant, at the time.

The process of posting in the best photograph, after which they were short listed by Anandadhara and Lux and finally chosen by a panel of judges, continued for many years.

In a span of just a few years, the focus of the contest has changed completely. Today Lux-Anandadhara’s Miss photogenic has undergone a complete conversion. The brand new Lux-Channel-I Superstar is claimed to be more focused on talent rather than looks only. Its last year’s search of a star for Humayun Ahmed’s Daruchini Dweep set out the criteria rather bluntly—they wanted a talented person, not a beauty queen. Therefore, the criterion for becoming ‘the one’ was much higher and the candidates were required to prove their skills to the fullest extent.

The selection of last year’s star Mamo, who is pursuing Drama and Dramatics in Jahangir Nagar University, perhaps indicated that the organisers were finally looking for raw talents.

‘Just being a part of the contest made us learn things which we did not know about,’ says Mamo. Mamo agrees it was difficult for all the contestants who had to perform an array of roles. ‘We had to be good at everything- be it comedy, melodrama, and even dance.’ Mamo, who grew up learning these forms of art, feels she has been lucky.

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