Vol. 5 Num 915 Sat. December 23, 2006  

In conversation
Shabnur: Leading lady of Dhaka tinseltown

Shabnur is perhaps the most popular actress on silver screen at present. Even when the movie industry struggles because of the impact of vulgar movies, mainstream films featuring Shabnur have always found a sizeable audience. She is also one of the few film actresses who are supporting quality movies, which are keeping hope for the better future of the industry. She has acted in hundreds of films of which Tumi Amar, Swapner Thikana, Ananda Asru, Biyer Phul, Bikkhobh, Tomaye Chai, Mahamilon, Shujon Shakhi and others have become blockbusters.

Shabnur stepped into the movie world when she was a schoolgirl in the early 1990s. At that period Bangladeshi movie industry had been lacking quality young actresses. For her performance in her second movie titled Tumi Amar, Shabnur came to the limelight. According to the actress, "Veteran filmmaker Ehtesham, who was closely associated with my family, offered me my first role in a feature film. In 1993, I acted in Chandni Raatey, directed by Ehtesham. I was paired with Shabbir in the movie. My enthusiastic performance with Salman Shah in the romantic movie Tumi Amar, directed by Zahurul Haque, was highly appreciated. From then on, I didn't need to look back."

That was the beginning of Salman Shah-Shabnur era in Bangladeshi movie industry, which though continued for a brief period, had a great impact on young cine-goers. After the death of Salman Shah, Shabnur has been paired with other actors such as Riaz and Ferdaus, in hit movies. Shabnur still misses the actor who died young. To quote her, "The movies we (Salman and I) did together were huge hits. Movie-lovers -- both young and 'young at heart' -- used to flock the theatres to watch the movies. We shared an amazing understanding that I could sense what Salmam would do during a sequence and vice versa. That unique combination has not developed with other actors." A melancholy Shabnur says, "If we could continue, I believe people would compare us with legendary duos of previous years."

Nowadays Shabnur is very selective about her roles, which she believes is the secret behind her success. She says, "To me the director and storyline of a movie are very important. I'm not interested in working with mediocre directors. Movies with mindless plots don't do it for me either. The storyline must reflect the socio-cultural milieu of Bangladesh. I'm also take dialogue diction seriously. Movies always have a major impact on the masses. So, we shouldn't do anything that can deteriorate the taste of impressionable young audience.

"I admit that a good number of vulgar movies are being made each year, but if the viewers analyse the names of the actors and directors of these movies, they will get an idea that none of the prominent actors and directors of the country are associated with this shady trade. In fact, those who are making these movies are not even "real" directors. Most of them are assistants or people who can be considered strangers to the movie industry."

Shabnur has yet to receive a National Award. But the gifted actress thinks that the success of her recent film Nirontor in Bangladesh and abroad is more rewarding than any award. Shabnur wants to move towards direction in future.