His career in the movies was less than a decade, but Shakil Khan won immense popularity in that short span of time. While at the peak of his career, he suddenly and silently withdrew himself from filmdom. Why? What went wrong?
Shakil Khan, now a full-fledged family man, replied, “Nothing went wrong. It is just that the environment in which I worked totally changed. The standard of our films plummeted and an unhealthy trend sprung up. There was nothing to do other than move away. This was not culture at all and I could not stoop to the smut that our cinema had been reduced to. I didn’t want to lose respect. Low grade vulgar movies were being churned out. I didn’t want to be part of this sick trend.”
He had entered movies on the spur of the moment. He first acted in the movie ‘Amar Ghar Amar Behest’ in 1994, though it was released three years later. There was no looking back after that. He came, saw and conquered Dhallywood. He had one hit after the other – ‘Paharadar’, ‘Biyer Phool’, ‘Narir Mon’, ‘Koshto’, to name just a few. He established himself firmly in Bangla cinema in no time at all.
FDC still seems empty without Razzak bhai. He was a magical actor. I consider myself lucky to have had a mentor like him. He was the brains of our cinema. Nothing and no one can replace him.
With popularity came round-the-clock schedules. He had no time for himself, rushing from one set to the other, one country to the other, for film shoots. And then he suddenly withdrew himself from Tinsel Town.
Now, amid the coronavirus pandemic, he still has to go out on business work. He said, “I go out only when I can’t avoid it. I take all sorts of precautions and maintaining social distancing always. Even my little children caution me when I go out, ‘Baba, take care, don’t go everywhere.’ I worry about them when I return, hoping I am safe and can keep them safe.”
Shakil Khan spends most of his time on the computer at home on personal and business work. In his free times he watches local and foreign films, reads and spends time with his children.
What Bangladeshi movie has he been watching? He replies he was watching an old Razzak-starrer, ‘Nacher Putul’. “It was amazing,” he says enthusiastically, “And what acting!” Shakil has acted in many movies with the legendary actor Razzak. Those memories are still alive today.
He says, “FDC still seems empty without Razzak bhai. He was a magical actor. I consider myself lucky to have had a mentor like him. He was the brains of our cinema. Nothing and no one can replace him.”
Speaking further about the king of Bangla cinema, Razzak, Shakil Khan said, “When we acted with him, we learnt so much. We took advice from him. There is no one to give such advice anymore. He was like a father figure. Bangladesh’s cinema has no guardian now that he has passed away.”
Going down memory lane, Shakil Khan remembered Humayun Faridi, Rajib, Jasim, Dildar and many filmmakers, fight directors and dance directors. He said, they are not alive today and sometimes their loss is very painful.
“I remember dressed up in costume and walking through a rice field with Rajib bhai, for the film ‘Paharadar’. We didn’t notice a canal running through the field and I suddenly fell in! I was drenched and shooting was shut down for the day!”
The girls and boys today are talented and modern. They can make a difference to the country’s cinema. When the number of heroes and heroines increase, there will be healthy competition. Then we will get good movies
Shakil was watching his own movie ‘Meghla Akash’ recently. It also started Mousumi and Purnima. The film was made about two decades ago and in retrospect, he isn’t happy with his acting. He said, “I can see all my mistakes now. If I could go back, I would change so many things in my acting. But there is no going back. My acting in old movies always gives me a sense of regret. But there is no use in lamenting over what has passed. You just have to appreciate it, however it may have been.”
When he was active in movies, all sorts of criticism would crop up against him. He is unperturbed. He said, “I always welcome positive criticism, not negative criticism. I am a positive man. I always have a positive mindset. I do not like persons with negative criticism.”
About present-day cinema, Shakil Khan said, “There was a time when many good movies would be released in a year, but things have changed. People don’t go to the cinema halls anymore. But people need to start returning to the halls, for the sake of entertainment. People can watch movies on YouTube and their mobiles, but there is a huge difference between entertainment on the bag screen and a small screen.”
“However,” he went on to say, “Better movies are being made now. People should start going back to the halls to watch films.”
He said there was a lack of good actor and actresses in Bangladesh’s cinema. “New actors and actresses are needed, he said, “The girls and boys today are talented and modern. They can make a difference to the country’s cinema. When the number of heroes and heroines increase, there will be healthy competition. Then we will get good movies.”