Vol. 5 Num 710 Sun. May 28, 2006  

Aruna Biswas
Changing tracks

"Right from my childhood I wanted to be a director, I don't know what I understood of direction back then, but it was always my dream."

Bold and beautiful, charismatic yet down to earth is the picture one gets of this actress who has acted in over 80 movies and is fast gaining a reputation for being a versatile TV serial director. Daughter of the legendary jatra artistes Amulendu Biswas and Jyotsna Biswas, Aruna is back with a new avatar after spending over six years in Canada.

She came face to face with acting at the tender age of four when her father's colleagues prompted him to cast her in a small role in one of his plays. She was given a part to play where she inhales poison and dies. "There I was, supposed to be dead on the stage with a pool of people in front of me, when suddenly mosquitoes started biting and I was squirming with the funniest of facial expressions. Though it was meant to be a sad scene all the viewers were laughing good naturedly," recalls Aruna of her first ever and only stint at jatra.

As both her parents were in the line of acting and direction, Aruna grew up hearing them speak about Gene Hackman, Julie Andrews, Uttam Kumar, Gone with the Wind, Ben Hur and plan their next jatrapala. They needed to do intensive research on these subjects for their work. During those times the resources were limited. All of this inspired her to be a director herself.

Once back from Canada, she felt a void in the acting scenario of Bangladesh and started toying around with the idea of direction. More often than not she was unsatisfied with the way her roles would shape up. Aruna had a solid acting background and had worked with Bangladesh's top directors. She knew she could have done more justice to her acting skills if the right roles were offered to her. This strong Leo lady felt that direction would help her express her creative and talented side. However, she knew that to actually be a director would require plenty of research and hard work. "I was ready for hard work and am one of those people who can work really hard," she said.

Channel i gave her the break she needed and Aruna directed her first TV serial Onnorokomer Lojja. Though it didn't create waves, this determined self starter was confident that in time she would manage to touch the hearts of her audiences. In a span of one year she completed Dolonchampa by Kazi Nazrul Islam, Boner Papiya and Dristhtidaan by Rabindranath Tagore which finally won her accolades from the audience and critics. "I have a TV serial coming up on RTV called Shure Eka Chobi and a weekly natok called boro Didi by Sharatchandra Chattapadhyay," enthusiastically informed Aruna.

Aruna feels that directors in Bangladesh stress only on the big actors in the industry. According to her each person in a serial has an important role to play and the quality of each character should be dealt with equally. She also disagrees with the glamour doll role that is stressed upon in movies and serials. The producers refuse to sponsor parallel projects blaming an illiterate audience. In her words, "We underestimate our audiences. The main reason for that is in our country we don't have a viewer's survey. Our audiences are mature and want change."

Being a woman in the director's shoes is not an easy job says Aruna. It is very challenging and many obstacles need to be overcome. "Not that I have been discriminated against in this field, but in the social context of our country it is still a man's world where women have to work that extra bit to carve out a niche for themselves."

Aruna dreams of making an international movie someday which will win Bangladesh international recognition and fame.

Aruna Biswas