Vol. 5 Num 479 Fri. September 30, 2005  

Shuchanda: Playing her parts to the hilt

There is an irony behind actress Shuchanda's role as a doctor in her first film Kagojer Nouka. Who would believe that she used to steer clear of hospitals and close her eyes when anyone was merely pricked with a needle? However, she displayed her professionalism and grit when she went over to the Mitford Hospital in old Dhaka to closely watch an ongoing gall stone operation. "I almost collapsed. However, I was determined to give a realistic touch to my character," says a smiling Shuchanda. Since then there was no looking back. Her performance in producer Subash Dutta's film opposite two lead actors Akhtar and Hassan Imam was well received by the audience.

After a long hiatus, the veteran actress Shuchanda has recently ventured into directing and received wide acclaim for the film Hajaar Bocchor Dhorey, based on a novel penned by talented writer-director Zahir Raihan. According to Shuchanda, "It was a gamble against the current vulgarity and obscenity in filmdom. The story is a reflection of the simple rural life often intertwined with superstitions through generations." The era Zahir Raihan had portrayed in the novel, saw women being used as mere commodities which can still relate to the contemporary times. Shuchanda, Zahir's wife, took up the challenge to bring this immortal literary work to life on celluloid.

Currently, preparing the ground for a new film, she says, "It's indeed a delight to see a handful of talented filmmakers emerging on the scene." However, far from being content, Shuchanda is apprehensive that without adequate government support the newcomers would possibly lose interest. "If our film industry is to thrive, the young directors should be encouraged," she adds.

Shuchanda has several suggestions to overcome the obstacles filmmakers face today. For instance, she pin points that in many cases on the first day of a film's release, unscrupulous agents use "cut piece", (obscene clips added to the film) to make a quick buck. In her view, if the District Commissioners are vigilant and take effective steps to tackle the problem, the film industry could stand a better chance of providing neat family entertainment. She also suggests recruiting women in the Censor Board, who she believes, have a vigilant eye for obscenity.

She is open in her criticism about the satellite culture that has led to a reduction of filmgoers. "This phenomenon, which began in the '80s, continued to worsen during the '90s. Today we are at a dead end," says Shuchanda.

With a twinkle in her eyes, Shuchanda shares fond memories of an era, of which she was an inseparable part. She talks about her initial reluctance to act in the classic, Jibon Thekey Neya, directed by the Zahir Raihan. "I was in the family way, so naturally I thought it best to avoid doing a film till I was fit to do the role. However, after listening to the story line from my husband, I was sold to the idea. This was a movie, which would inspire our freedom movement and had a definite political slant. It would have been a great blunder not to act in the film. I still thank my stars that I opted to be a part in it," she says.

In a reminiscent mood, Shuchanda continues, "There are countless memories of when the entire crew would wait sleeplessly in our living room to shoot for the film. For instance, on the day of shooting the 'Ekushey February' song, Amjad Hossain, Anwar Hossain, Rosy Samad, Razzak and cameraman Afzal Chowdhury along with the crew, waited with bated breadth till dawn. At three in the morning, Zahir told us that it was time to go to the Shaheed Minar. On reaching the spot we saw a section of people had already gathered there. The nation was going through a charged moment. As we waited in our cars, the people were so excited that they heaved our car a few feet above the ground for a few moments to express their gratitude to us."

Shuchanda goes on "We are witness to an era when movies often reached their silver, golden and platinum jubilee. Now the culture could be revived if only the directors made a concerted effort to offer something spectacular for the viewers. I'm sure they can reap positive results. What the film industry needs is creative people to revive a once flourishing industry."

Shuchanda and Razzak in Jibon Thekey Neya. PHOTO: File Photo