March 21, 2009
Sharmin Chowdhury talks to filmstar Razzak about his early days in Kolkata, his leading ladies and his undying passion for Bangla Movies
Actor Razzak ruled the film industry in Bangladesh from the 1960s all the way to the 1990s. He was the king of the heroes of Bangladeshi cinema, his good looks and powerful acting making him arguably the most famous and most popular actor our country has yet seen.
At his prime, he was a real heart-throb; women loved him and men wanted to be more like him. Even today, though his days of being featured in starring roles are behind him, he has lost none of his star quality. His ability to mesmerise those around him, whether through his acting or through the force of his personality, remains unblemished by age.
However, the story of Razzakâs becoming a famous movie hero is an unlikely one. Growing up in Kolkata, his ambitions didnât lie in cinema but rather on the playing field. âI never intended to become an actor; I was rather into sports during my student life,â he begins by saying. It was a rather random incident that placed him on the track that carried him to stardom. One year, his school was putting on a play at a function to celebrate Saraswati Puja and his sports teacher asked him to take part in it. Razzak, apparently not so willingly, acted for the first time in his life and enjoyed his first taste of joy of acting. After that, he voluntarily took part in many other plays at school and a time came when he decided to take up acting seriously.
But, like most great actors, he had to struggle to make it. First, he faced resistance from his family. His father Akbar Hossain and two brothers were businessmen and hence, he was expected to go into business as well. He did, however, receive support and encouragement from one if his brothers, Abdur Gaffar, and that made it much easier for him to chase his dream. âI come from a conservative family and it was not easy for me to go for my dreams to become an actor, but Mejho Bhai (Abdul Gaffar) helped me a lot,â he says, âwithout him it would not have been possible for me to be where I am today.â
He started doing plays with senior artists after passing his secondary school examinations. He obviously had immense talent and he started getting more and more roles and gradually, he became a renowned drama artist in Kolkata.
The actor recalls his time in Kolkata with great nostalgia. âThat is where I was born, where I started my acting career and got married.â He talks about the amazing opportunities he got to see many famous artists of that time, actors like Uttam Kumar and Tapan Sinha who, like Razzak, also lived in the cityâs Kaliganj area.
Razzak also mentions the name of Pijush Bose, a film director in Kolkata who had a great influence in his life. Had it not been for Pijush Bose, Razzak might not have come to Dhaka to become a film actor because it was Bose who told Razzak to migrate to Dhaka and start a career in films.
âI migrated to Dhaka actually to pursue my dream to act in movies. I wanted to start with small characters in the movies in Kolkata but Pijush Bose did not let me, he told me to try for better roles and said that Dhaka would be a good place for me to start.â
Razzak migrated to Dhaka in 1964 with his his wife and 6 month old son Bapparaj. After settling down, he started acting in theatres and also worked as an assistant director for a while. He then continued his acting in television for two years. He had a role in a television drama serial named âGharoaâ. Meanwhile he acted in some small roles in different movies as well; at that time he had no idea that one day, roles would be created just for him.
Finally, in 1966, the famous film director Jahir Raihan offered him a role in the film âBehulaâ, the first movie where Razzak was cast as the hero. This was the result of his efforts to become a film actor, a dream which he carried with him from Kolkata. âI kept on trying for a chance to work in a movie. One day, I went to Jahir Raihan and told him about my interest and experience. He listened to me and offered me the role in Behula.â It was just the beginning. Razzakâs second film was a classic, âAnwaraâ, and by the time of his third âAgun Niye Khelaâ, he had almost reached superstar status.
Razzak has acted in so many movies that he finds it difficult to pick out one or two favorites. He names quite a few, including âJibon Theke Neyaâ, âMaynamatiâ, âObujh Monâ, âBeimaanâ, âNeel Akasher Nicheâ, âOshikkhitoâ, âChhutir Ghontaâ and âBaadi Theke Begumâ. He says he played some of his most favourite characters in âBaadi Theke Begumâ, âOshikkhitoâ and âBeimaanâ.
The first actress to be paired with Razzakâs as the heroine was Shuchanda, though he is better known for his work alongside Kobori and Shabana. âI had a romantic pair with kobori, but I got paired with Shabana more times than with any other heroine. I had a good understanding with all of them.â
When asked how a star like him avoided rumours of relationships with the heroines, Razzak says, âmy passion was acting and my love was my family, there was always a mutual understanding at work with my family and the support of my wife, Lakshmi, made it possible for me to avoid such rumours.â
Razzak played his last role as a hero in the 1994 movie âOndho Bishwashâ. Then, after a five year hiatus, he returned to the silver screen for a role in âBaba Kano Chakorâ. Apparently, he needed that time to adapt to a new life which did not require the routines of his old one. Also, the break underlined his commitment to work in suitable roles. âI did not want to work in characters that no longer suited me or characters that were being imposed on me, so I took a break and came back to act in roles that suit meâ.
His comeback film, âBaba Kano Chakorâ, was a huge hit and he was asked to star in the Kolkata remake of the movie which also became a huge success. The famous actor of our country now acts in at least two movies in Kolkata every year in addition to his work here. His famous movies in Kolkata include âSharthoporâ and âOnnodataâ.
The once prolific actor is now very selective as most of the scripts do not have the same kind of appeal as they did before. He thinks it is the result of the change in the society and culture of our country. However, he is very happy that our film industry is fighting vulgarity quite successfully and feels that the industry has immense potential.
The quintessential hero of Bangladeshi cinema also feels proud as a father as his sons have willingly taken up acting as their profession. His elder son, Rezaul Karim Bapparaj, and younger son, Sajid Hossain, are both working in movies. âMy family has always looked up to acting, my wife Lokkhi has had a huge contribution in my success and I have always inspired my sons to act in films and today when I see them working in this field, I feel really good.â