Stage's Most Flamboyant Actor
a man with many hats. More known as the flamboyant, burly
figure of the stage and the lovable character of tele-drama,
Aly Zaker has entered into the world of admaking
with equal finesse. Recently, he has also delved into column
writing. Here, Zaker, a regular columnist of SWM, talks about
his multiple roles in the entertainment scene.
role are you most passionate about -- actor, director or admaker?
Admaker is a
role that came my way when I was in Karachi loitering about
as a fresh university graduate. I do it for a living. I came
to love advertising much later in life when competition amongst
brands, their makers and the ad agencies started 'hotting'
up. I must confess that professionally I tend to excel in
competitive situations. I love advertising more now than in
the past. The trade has graduated from being mere advertising
to 'total communication' and marketing plays a very important
role in it.
and directing are the passions I have pursued without any
question of pay-offs. I have been with these two activities,
now, for over three decades. I love them as I did when I started.
But, of course, maturity comes with age and I do think a lot
before deciding, more than I ever used to. All in all I must
confess that I love all three with equal intensity but with
was a surge in the theatre movement right after independence.
But over the decades, that spark seems to have diminished.
How do you evaluate the present theatre scene?
This is a question that we are asked very often. My answer
to this, as always, would be, no, it has not diminished. Theatre
is equally vibrant today as it used to be before. You see,
when the first child in a family is born there's a lot of
excitement about and around it. On the 3rd February 1973,
regular staging of plays by selling tickets had begun for
the first time in the country. So there was a lot of hullabaloo.
Now it has settled down to a regular practice. Therefore the
excitement of the maiden venture has watered down. It is true
that we are still confined to two or three theatres in Dhaka
city. We are technically handicapped. Therefore the presentation
is not commensurate with the acting or directional standard.
However when it all started in the early seventies the attraction
of the TV channels wasn't there. Now only the core audience
of the stage plays come to the theatres.
are your biggest weaknesses?
Tardiness in every aspect of life.
is your most favourite activity?
Doing nothing. Acting, thinking, writing, reading and occasionally
getting lost in the country side with my still camera. The
most, of course, is doing nothing.
you always, even as a child, interested in acting? What was
your childhood like?
No. My childhood was like a dream. I lived in Khulna and Kushtia
with my parents. We were nature abound. The rivers Rupsha
and Gorai, the "Kash bon" the steam locomotive meandering
through the rice fields, the boats and the bullock carts still
beckon towards rural Bangladesh.
would you say has been the biggest disappointment in your
This is not the Bangladesh I dreamt of when I decided that
I must fight for its liberation. Mind you, I wasn't forced
by circumstances. I had deliberately and whole-heartedly decided
to fight the war against the occupation army of Pakistan.
do you consider your greatest achievement?
I have been able to remain absolutely clear to my conscience
for all my actions so far.
was your first role on stage? Were you nervous? Tell us about
My first role on the stage was as the Neta (Leader) in Shaheed
Munier Chowdhury's "Kabor" (the grave). This was
a huge role and I was nervous like hell. But I suppose in
stage theatre the audience creates a spell for the actors.
It's like magic. This, of course is my personal view. So,
once I am on the stage and see the audience in front of me,
I am transformed in to the character I am doing. I love to
carry the audience with me.
has been your most challenging role on stage and on television?
On stage, several. Galileo, Nuraldeen, Dewan Gazi, Macbeth,
Prospero. My most favourite, till now, is Galileo. On TV,
you could say the inimitable Mama in Bohubrihee. And some
others now and then. I am still awaiting the role, the play
and of course the Director to be able to do something worth
mentioning in the electronic media.
going into admaking forced you to compromise your acting career?
What excites you about admaking? Can you give an example of
an ad that you are particularly proud of?
Well, I became an adman much before I became an actor. Acting
is my passion. Thankfully I do not have to pursue it as a
profession. I am lucky to be able to choose my role, my time
and my priorities. When others seek relief from various other
recreations and chores I enter the rehearsal room. About ads,
it's been a long journey of thirty five years. During this
time several significant ads were made from the agency I work
for. To name some, the Lux ads with our local celebrities,
the Lipton Tea ads, the Close-up toothpaste ads, the Red Cow
milk ads, the Ciba- Geigy ad on depression, the UNICEF ads
on primary education, etc.
you think TV dramas have reached a mature stage or is there
still a lot more growing up to do?
I don't think, in our country, TV drama has reached anywhere.
We have miles to travel. Forget about technical skills, our
acting standards are nothing to write home about. Well, there
are exceptions. But then exceptions prove the rule.
you ever considered going into cinema? Why have we not seen
you on the silver screen?
No, not in the conventional commercial cinema. I have acted
in the parallel cinema of course. I have worked with Morshedul
Islam and Tanveer Mokammel. If I am offered a role that I
like in a genuinely good film, time permitting, I will definitely
have a go. But commercial cinema is out of the question. It's
business, not art.