Vol. 5 Num 438 Fri. August 19, 2005  

Saifuddin Ahmed
On the good old days of Mukh O Mukhosh

Saifuddin Ahmed is among the few living artistes who have worked in the first Bangla feature film of the country, Mukh O Mukhosh. Popular actor Saifuddin played a comic role in the film as a house help who ran away from his master's place with his beloved. This year the nation celebrates the 49th anniversary of the film, which was released on August 3, 1956.

A nostalgic Saifuddin still recalls that momentous day vividly, "When the then Provincial Governor Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque inaugurated the premiere show of the film at the Rupmahal cinema hall, all the artistes and behind-the-scene people were present. You can easily realise our excitement! The first Bangla feature film of this land and we were a part of it! We could not hear anything except for the applause of the audience. There were hundreds of people gathered outside the cinema hall. All of them wanted to see the premiere show. However, because of the limitations of the seats we could not arrange tickets for them. The film was a super-duper hit on the first show. How can I forget those days?"

Director Abdul Jabbar Khan was Saifuddin's brother-in-law. So, when the director asked Saifuddin to work in the film, he was very excited. "Although I was a regular actor of Radio Pakistan, Dhaka in that period, it was a very tempting offer. The first full-length feature film in our own language and directed by a Bangalee: these things meant a lot to me," asserts Saifuddin.

Born in 1927 in Assam of the undivided India, Saifuddin began his career as a singer at a young age. Soon he launched into acting in the plays of the then Radio Pakistan. He was a stage performer as well who used to act with his brother-in-law Abdul.

Later, after the 1950s Saifuddin began acting regularly in films. Among his films are: Joar Elo, Nachghar, Shundari, Ujala, Porwana, Chawa Pawa, Boro Bhalo Lok Chhilo, Banshori, Paroshmoni, Sonar Tori, Rater Porey Din, Dahan, Neel Akasher Nichey, Didar, Tin Konya, Insaf, Ralakkhmi Srikanto, Bhul Shobi Bhul, Debor Bhabi, Shobar Uporey, Rocky and Shadhona. He was a regular cast of the TV plays Rangdhanu, Shangshaptak, Kushum and many others.

For his outstanding performances in films and TV plays, he has received many awards including National Film Award and Cine Journalists Association Award in 1979 for Shundari, TENASINAS Padak in 1990, Bangladesh Film Producers' Association Award in 1993 in the category of best performance in a comic role and Zia Swarnopadak in 1997.

After the premiere of Mukh O Mukhosh the then Pakistan Observer (August 11, 1956 issue) published a criticism titled "Mukh o Mukhosh holds out future possibilities". In that article, the film critic wrote, "Saifuddin has on the whole provided good entertainment as a comedian." [Source: Bangladesher Chalachitrer Itihash by Anupam Hayat.]

Saifuddin Ahmed practiced journalism for three years in the late 1970s. He proudly said, "I conducted an interview with popular Indian actor Bhanu Bandyopadhyay in 1978, when I used to work for the cine magazine Chitrali." He used to write a popular column answering the questions of the readers of the cine magazine.

Though he suffers from age-related ailments, Saifuddin says he can never forget his experiences while working in the film Mukh O Mukhosh. In demonstration, he quotes a line from the movie: "I will not stay in this house a moment longer. I cannot tolerate the house owners' injustice anymore. They don't give the poor their due."

Saifuddin Ahmed and Bobita in Diner Porey Raat. PHOTO: File Photo