Shakib Khan, currently the highest paid actor, rules the Bangladeshi movie industry with his continuous successes. Now the "Number One" hero is cementing his stay at the peak of the film business. Every upazila of the country has at least one movie theatre which showcases a Shakib Khan film at any given time, making him the most popular actor of the country.
Shakib's ride to success began four/five years ago. Since then, his signing amount has defied gravity -- jumping from Taka 8 lakh per movie to a whopping Taka 35 lakh. In fact many producers fail to sign him on, as the star has a heavily booked schedule which extends as long as a year.
Movie theater owners have unanimously crowned Shakib as the top favorite, saying that it is his movies that have kept the trade alive and running.
Shakib's rise has been an outcome of the actor's dedication to his work. He stays for long hours at the sets, fulfilling his commitments to the movie makers.
Half a dozen movies showcasing Shakib Khan are now in the pipeline. "Mon-er Jala", directed by Malek Afsari, is leading the race, following a Censor Board approval. Produced by Taposhi Thakur, the movie will see Opu Biswas starring opposite Shakib. Other movies that await release are Sohanur Rahman Sohan's "Koti Takar Prem", Nur Hossain Bolai's "Opomaner Jala", Shah Alam Kiron's "Ekbar Bolo Bhalobashi" and PA Kajal's "Bhalobasha Aajkal". Opu Biswas plays opposite Shakib in three of the movies; Purnima in two and Koli appears in the other movie.
Meanwhile, one of Shakib's latest films is Chashi Nazrul Islam's "Debdas", where he'll be playing the title role. Shakib says the role will be a landmark in his life and expresses the hope that the audience will come out in huge numbers to view the film.
The actor says that the love of the audience and God's blessings have helped him make it to the top. Asked about his contribution in bringing the audience back to the movie theatres, Shakib said that of late more families have been opting for a silver screen experience. This was unimaginable a couple of years ago, Shakib says, adding that greater sense of security has encouraged people to go to the movies.
The unassuming actor adds that it's not only his appearance that makes his movies hits, but the quality of the films. He denies that the mainstream film industry depends on him, asserting that collective contentment of the actors, producers, directors has made for a bright movie scene.
Asked whether his signing cost is too much considering the rest of the industry players, Shakib says that one of his movies made earnings of almost Taka 2 crore, which is an unprecedented figure. While the film industry does good business, his films rake in greater returns but as soon as the industry faces a slump, his earnings will drop too, Shakib explains.
The popular actor also claims that there is no dearth of able actors in the industry, with veterans like Riaz, Ferdous, Amin Khan still active. New faces like Emon and Nirob are also on the rise. But it is the people's demand that counts, Shakib says.
The last year saw 18 releases by Shakib, making him the most commercially successful actor in the business. The top movies of 2010 were "Number One Shakib Khan", "Hay Prem Hay Bhalobasha", "Bhalobashlei Ghor Bandha Jaye Na", "Premik Purush", "Bolo Na Tumi Amar" and "Nishwash Tumi Amar".
But will the success of 2010 continue in the coming years? Shakib pauses briefly and answers "Only time can tell".
The actor recently celebrated his birthday with his family, buying his favorite car for his mother on the day. Shakib has also bought and named a house in Pubail for his mother. The house acts as a shooting spot 24/7.
Shakib is likely to run in the Movie Artistes' Association election soon. The reason? Shakib says it is up to the artistes to protect the industry.