Do artistes have any responsibility in this regard?
We work for the viewers. Today we are actors, thanks to them. Directors and actors, of course, have responsibility. Many feel that it is just another job to be done, but we need to think what we are giving to the audience. If artistes become a bit more active, drama can play role in preventing social decadence.
How many ‘views’ a drama gets on YouTube seems to be gaining priority nowadays.
In the past, talented actors focussed on the story and the characters. Now ‘views’ have become the main focus in dramas. The trend is to have more views on YouTube, TikTok and more 'likes' on Facebook as actors. They are getting work. Acting is being destroyed by focusing on 'views'.
How are viewers reacting to dramas in recent times?
Previously people home and abroad would praise dramas, but now most people say they can’t watch dramas with their family. Certain scenes are downright embarrassing. I want to tell the channel authorities, screenwriters and directors, don’t give importance to ‘views’, instead save the art of drama. Use artistes who know how to act.
How interested is the youth in learning how to act?
I haven't worked with those who are acting nowadays. Apurba is the only one who I have worked with. His first drama was with me. He had a knack for learning. Everyone is watching Afran Nisho’s dramas. I had his acting brilliance. He, too, wanted to learn. I also like acting of Mehazabien. When she participated in the Lux Channel i Superstar competition she couldn’t speak Bengali well. At that time, I told her that you look beautiful, if you learn Bangla and take up acting, you will do well. Now she speaks Bangla very well in drama and acts in all excellent characters. The young people have a lot to learn. I will tell those who are getting a chance to act because of their number of views, keep practicing otherwise you will not survive in the profession.
Many artistes don’t want to go outside Dhaka to act. Many refuse to even read the story before acting. Have you ever faced such a situation?
I have no idea of all this. On Wednesday, I heard about this for the first time that two actors will not shoot outside Dhaka. I was surprised. During our time, we rushed to different corners of the country for shooting. We did shooting for days after days amidst rain and were covered with mud. Now it’s also heard that many don’t shoot in torn clothes or in slums. We always thought location would show the character. Watching the story of some dramas seems that we are far away from the reality. A lot of other things are heard too.
What more have you heard?
Now many actors shoot at their will. They pack up when they want. Such behaviour of an artiste is not right at all. They should think once, how many people’s earnings are involved. Many only manage to buy food to take home after work. What will happen to them? An artiste must thing beyond acting. They have an obligation to others too.
Do you have any regret in your 26-year acting career?
I have a lot of regrets in my acting career. If I understood things 10 years ago, I would move ahead a bit more. I would work in many good dramas. However, I have dominated television and stage along with many good actors and talented artistes. I have got a lot. My regret is, like all artists I, too, am waiting for a good character of my liking. The desire of such work still remains unfulfilled.
Why haven’t you been seen acting like before?
I do acting regularly. I am acting in serials and package dramas, and have started anchoring again regularly. I did a radio drama in Bangladesh Betar after a long time. During the pandemic, I worked in three big advertisements. I have acted in a film. I have been rehearsing for the theatre. However, I was seen less on screen than before. Previously, if I worked in ten dramas now I do in three dramas. Besides, viewers watch dramas less now. I have been busy with politics besides acting. In fact, I have no zeal for publicity. I always wanted to keep myself hidden. However, I have brought some change to myself now.
What kind of change?
Previously I was an introvert. If anyone said anything about me I would remain silent. Now I retaliate. If you don’t counter, people get chance to attack. People will continue to play games, taking the advantage of the weakness.
You are involved in politics. Do you have any plan to become people’s representative?
I have continued my effort to stay beside all as long as I have been working in the entertainment industry. During this pandemic, I also tried to stand beside light-men, make-up men and many artistes. However, it was in a limited scale. Now I want to work on a broader scale. Everyone asks will I contest in election? I told them if I have the capability I will be an MP. Nobody will nominate me based on my drama 'views'. One will have to be competent to speak in parliament. However, other than becoming an MP, I want to stand by the people all the time. My effort will continue.
* This interview appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna