Vol. 5 Num 943 Tue. January 23, 2007  

In conversation
Afzal Sharif: A penchant for comic roles

Afzal Sharif is firmly established in Bangladeshi filmdom as well as the small screen in the role of comic characters. Going back in time, Sharif asserts that he embarked on his acting career on stage in 1984. As a member of Theatre, Afzal was a regular on stage till 1995. The stage plays in which he has performed are Jamidar Darpan, Khotobi-kkhato, Shat Ghater Kanakori, Rakkhushi and Mahapurush.

Watching his performance in the stage play titled Mahapurush, eminent director Humayun Ahmed picked him for the popular TV series Bahubrihi in 1988. From then on he became popular for his rendering of insolvent and comic characters.

Said Afzal, "Though I won appreciation for my performance in Bahubrihi, I consider the play Unmesh, directed by Abul Hayat, as my big break. In Unmesh, I performed as the protagonist. Since then directors both in film and TV media have been opting for me."

Afzal's first film was Padma Nadir Majhi (1992), directed by Indian filmmaker Goutam Ghose. From that point he took interest in films rather than stage and TV. Subsequent performances in movies such as Dangafasad, Abdar, Banglar Bou, and Natojanu, made him a popular name in Bangladeshi filmdom.

Why comedy? Said Afzal in response: "It's not true that I act only in comic roles. In some films I've played the part of the antagonist. But, my directors prefer to cast me in such roles since my performance is natural and entertaining to the masses."

Like many other film actors, Afzal Sharif is also hopeful about the future of Dhaliwood. While admitting that the film industry was temporarily derailed because of some mediocre directors, he points out that the situation is improving. Overall remuneration of actors should be increased so that talented youngsters can take it up as a profession, he said. To quote him, "Only the lead characters in Bangladeshi filmdom get a handsome amount. Moreover, because of faulty acoustics in movie theatres, dialogues are not always audible. The actors use monotonous high-pitched voice modulation that goes against the demand of the sequence. "

As for the future, Afzal is eager to become a film director. He said, "Most of the renowned directors in the country such as Subhash Dutta, Amjad Hossain and Dilip Biswas in their early days were popular 'comedians'. I believe performing in comic characters is challenging. To do it successfully one needs to have keen observation. A successful actor can become a quality director."

Afzal Sharif (L) with co-actors in a scene from a film