Vol. 5 Num 183 Sun. November 28, 2004  

'Rural life is the mainstay of my TV plays'-- Masum Reza

Acomplished TV playwright Masum Reza has been much in the news lately. He is the latest recipient of the Zakaria Smrity Padak 2004 conferred by the Theatre group yesterday at the Experimental Theatre Stage.

If one looks at his career one can see the reason for the accolades. His popular work, the mega serial Ronger Manush, catapulted him to the position of a front ranking playwright. The serial has been adapted to a movie. Masum is the screen -playwright as well as the dialogue writer of the film.

There's plenty more on Masum's plate. As he says, 'Along with Ronger Manush, I am the screen-playwright of another film titled Mollah Barir Bou. Moreover, I am writing a 13-episode play, which Taher Shipon directs for BTV.'

Where did he get the idea of writing Ronger Manush? Masum has a ready response. 'Initially, I jointly wrote another mega serial titled Nokshi Parer Manushera with Selim Al Deen, whom I consider as my mentor. Nokshi Parer Manushera is also based on some interesting events of rural life. After the success of the serial, we decided to make Ronger Manush. But, after the first few episodes of Ronger Manush we parted ways. On my own, I wrote the script of the mega serial.'

Rural life is the mainstay of Masum's TV plays. He says, 'Though I live in the city, I always enjoy writing folk story-based plays.'

Masum is positive about the trend of package programmes in Bangladesh. In his view, these programmes have given an opportunity to many TV aspirants. 'Ronger Manush is considered as my best TV play, but I consider it as a popular production. My best plays are Seku Sekandar, Chhaya Ghari, Dichakrajan and Bijmantra. However, there is limited demand for such productions. If the sponsors and private TV channels provide more support to the makers there will be more quality TV plays. In fact, there should be a different business approach to culture to that of commodities. As quality productions are expensive, the makers favour popular productions without much regard for quality production.'

Masum has been writing stage plays since 1979. His first script titled Chand Alir Documentary, for a street play, was staged in Kushtia in 1979. His full-fledged stage play is Birsa Kabya. On the style of the stage plays, Masum says, 'The story line of all of my stage plays is single character oriented and has a tragic end. But, I present the tragedy in a colourful way.

'Before the Indian government's announcement of Birsa as a hero in 1996, I made him the protagonist of my play Birsa Munda. This theatrical work is based on the Munda rebellion against the British Raj.

'Also see Ekolobbo, the protagonist of my Mahabharata-based play Nittopuran. The lower cast born man Ekolobbo is a minor character in Mahabharata, but I have portrayed him as a greater hero than the Pandavs' he adds.

His recent works like Jolbalika, and Nittopuran prove that with the passage of time he has gained maturity. Masum says, 'A quality playwright must be deeply involved with social issues. And each day brings new experiences and emotions which are reflected in his work.'

Masum is now writing another stage play titled Baghal for his group Desh Natok.

For his long innings as a playwright Masum has received many prestigious awards like BACHSAS award, Meril--Prothom Alo award and others.

A playwright of note