Nayak Raj says goodbye

Dhaka,  Tue,  26 September 2017
Published : 22 Aug 2017, 20:04:47 | Updated : 22 Aug 2017, 20:10:29
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Nayak Raj says goodbye

Maswood Alam Khan
Nayak Raj of Bangla films AbdurRazzak has passed away leaving us shocked and bemusing those silvery cine-going days when we were somewhere between childhood and maturity in the 1950s and 1960s, a period known as golden era of film industry in the subcontinent. Pakistan regime, all on a sudden, banned Indian movies after the war between India and Pakistan in 1965 compelling us to watch mostly Urdu and English movies.

At a time when Urdu films with powerful actors like Waheed Murad, Rani, Nadeem, Zeba and Deeba were very popular in both Eastern and Western wings of Pakistan, Bangladeshi producers and directors alike jumped on the bandwagon to make Urdu films like Talash that hit the box offices. In those days, producing Bangla movies needed courage and entailed risks. All on a sudden, Razzak appeared in Behula, his first film, thanks to Zahir Raihan, in 1966 and subsequently in scores of Bangla movies as an actor, like a dazzling comet in the filmdom, like an epitome of love and passion.

Uttam Kumar in Bangla movies and Dilip Kumar in Hindi, then glittery film stars in the subcontinent, were the role models for an aspiring actor to emulate. They were the heartthrobs for young Bangladeshi boys who wanted to speak and see the world through their lips and eyes. That was the era when Razzak emerged as a sort of substitute to Uttam in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and won the hearts of cine-goers of all ages. Posters and billboards emblazoned with photographs of Razzak-Kobori pair prominently displayed on the façade of cinema halls and on walls in the towns and cities are still vivid in our memory. Such a poster, if available, could be sold to any of us (who are 65 or above) for any price as a piece of history.

Razzak is no more with us. Unbelievable! He was only 75! Only the other day, he appeared in a television programme with Kabori. They shared pleasantries, they cracked jokes and exchanged quips, and also reminisced their golden days on silver screens.

Razzak had struggled in his young life to make ends meet. Born in West Bengal in 1942, he lost his parents at a young age. Finding no prospect of a good career in India and scared by the riots between Hindus and Muslims in 1964 in West Bengal, he came to erstwhile East Pakistan to try his luck in acting or any other career. Fortune at long last, like in a fiction, smiled on him as he started his career in television and then in cinemas. In his career of fifty years in the movie industry in Bangladesh, Razzak starred in more than 500 films and directed 16. His popularity soared like a rocket into the space. He received Independence Award, the highest civilian honor from Bangladesh government, in 2015 for his role in the cultural arena. 

Who can afford to forget the 1969 black and white movie "Nil Akasher Niche" where Razzak and Kabori, among others, starred and super-duper singers like Mahmudunnabi, KhandokerFaruk Ahmed, Ferdosi Begum, and Shahneoaz Begum lent their mesmerising singing voices? In the movie, Kabori was a rich girl and Razzak was one roaming under the blue sky. They fell in love--an affair not quite practical in real life though, but a love that seemed to have conjured up the dreams of many cine-goers. There are others like Jibon Theke Neya, Etotuku Asha, Rongbaz that helped Razzak reach the pinnacle of film industry in Bangladesh.

As one of the great legends in Bangladesh's film industry Razzak stood out as a symbol of how a non-star can attain the zenith of stardom through struggles and perseverance. He came up with spellbinding performances in one hit film after another. He developed his own distinct histrionics and style, which would set him apart from many of his contemporaries. He played tragedians with such intensity that wolf-whistling front-stallers and upper-class cine-goers alike had to weep. His scintillating portrayal as poor people was incredible. His infectious smile, his photogenic face, his heroic delivery of dialogues, his sprightly dances were envies to many inside and outside of the film world in Bangladesh.

Razzak has left us to pay his debt to nature. Many of us will be grieving his death very intensely.

Grief is what we feel inside after we lose someone we are attached to. We grieve when people we love die. We feel disconnected. Grieving the death of a very close relation like an old parent who we wish could live for at least ten more years or of a best friend who couldn't enjoy the splendour of full life sounds natural. But, why do we grieve so intensely the death of an actor or a singer who we saw only on the silver screens, who we never met or talked to? 

We grieve an actor's death because the words we wanted but failed to speak out to our dream persons were uttered by that actor. We grieve a singer's death because a melodious song we longed so much to sing ourselves but couldn't was sung by the singer.

Inside a cinema hall we remain no more 'we' if the movie tells the story of our own real or fancied lives. We morph into those actors and singers. They voice our own inner thoughts, they sing our unsung songs, they live our own unlived lives wearing our own shoes. They speak for us. They help us understand our deepest feelings and desires. Our feelings for them are not based on personal relationships but instead on our own identities, whose personalities we aspire to ourselves.

Death of a friend is not a physical death of ours; such a death shocks us undoubtedly. But death of our favorite actor is a kind of our own physical death, a death of our shadow that pains us. It's like living with dying, a death of a twin, or at least a half death.

maswood@hotmail.com

 
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