Vol. 5 Num 263 Tue. February 22, 2005  

Q & A
' I was destined to be an actress' -- Shanta
Shanta Islam is a talented theatre and television actress. Among her popular plays are Judhha Ebong Judhha, Agun Mukha, Jayjayanti, Mayur Shinghashon, Jhumka and Iti Amar Bon. She has also performed in a few feature films, among which Anyajibon won acclaim. After a long pause Shanta Islam is back with her new stage play Rajkonyar Golpokatha. Recently, she talked to The Daily Star about her life and work. Excerpts:

What is your motto?
Like the song by Ajay Chakrovarty, O Mon Majhi Hal Chhero Na, I don't want to give up. I just want to keep going.

How about your dream role?
I have played many exceptional roles. However, if I could play the role of a dual personality, it would be rather interesting.

What do you think is the most important quality of an actor?
The first and foremost quality of an actor is commitment.

Do you recall any interesting experiences?

In the television play Mahuar Mon, written by Atiqul Haque Chowdhury, I played the role of a Santal girl. It was sometime in the 1990s and my co-actor was Humayun Fareedi. During the shooting, I had to wear heavy make-up to make me look dark, which would resemble that of a Santal girl. After our shooting ended we all boarded the bus. But for some reason the bus was not moving ahead. When everybody got impatient, director Atiqul Haque Chowdhury shouted aloud, "How can we start without Shanta, she is still not here!" I started to laugh at the top of my lungs and everybody looked at me. Then a surprised Atiqul Haque Chowdhury came closer and was extremely impressed with my make up.

If you were told to make three wishes, what would they be?I don't believe in making wishes, I believe in action. However, I wish to stay physically fit. Secondly, to be in touch with fair-minded people and, finally, I want to bring up my only child with proper values.

If you were not an actress what would you be?
I can't even imagine myself in any other role. However, in my childhood I used to look at myself in the mirror wearing a handloom saree, spectacles and a Shantiniketoni bag hanging from the shoulder. I used to dream of being a university teacher. But I think I had a hidden desire to be an actress. If not, why would I be looking at the mirror and act like a teacher? I guess I was destined to be an actress.

Do you have any secrets to share?
My original name is Najma Haque. While in university, I joined the theatre against the will of my family members. However, I was determined to act in stage plays. And again I didn't want to make my parents unhappy. So with the pseudonym Shanta Islam, I started acting. And now few people know me by my original name.

Who is the most influential person in your life?
My mother.

Illustration: Shiplu