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Abdul Ali Lalu, once a hugely popular actor better known to a generation of TV and film audience as 'Lalu Bhai', now lives his life in obscurity.
Lalu, now 75 years old, is virtually penniless. He has no source of income. Feeble with heart disease, high blood pressure and other old age related complications, he still flashes that famous na?ve smile when talking to people visiting him. The individual, who through his jokes and acting once entertained millions, is now in desperate need of assistance.
Son of Wajed Ali and Zobeda Khatun, Lalu was born at Charpara Sehara in Mymensingh town in 1932. Lalu's introduction to acting happened in his childhood with a drama titled Palli Samaj. His father directed the play.
After that young Lalu became an inseparable part of the Mymensingh cultural arena. In 1960 he moved from Mymensingh, seeking bigger and better opportunities. His aspirations brought him to Dhaka. He made his first appearance on the silver screen with the film Shurjo Snan in 1962. Soon, filmmakers took notice and Lalu became busy in films. Throughout his career, he has acted in over 100 films. According to Lalu, he had worked with Abdul Jabbar Khan, who made the first Bangla feature film in the then East Pakistan -- Mukh O Mukhosh.
Lalu also attained popularity among the TV and radio audiences. "Koinchhen Dehi", a catchphrase Lalu often used in the much admired TV show Jadi Kichhu Mon-e Naa Koren, hosted by Fazle Lohani, was repeated by many.
Despite, his volume of work, Lalu never became financially solvent as he had to maintain a family of eight in Mymensingh. He was also an employee of Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board and he went on retirement in 1989. Now he depends on his pension -- Tk 1646, which is basically nothing in this day and age. There are times when the family cannot manage to put food on the table. The family has yet to receive any kind of financial aid from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs or Film Development Corporation.
Out of his five sons, four are married and can hardly make ends meet. Lalu lives with his wife Halima Khatun and their youngest son who is differently abled. The once well-loved artiste now lives in a shabby house with bamboo fence at Brahmapally in Mymensingh town.
An ailing Lalu now cannot even remember most of films. According to his family members, films Lalu had worked in include Shurjo Snan, Dui Diganto, Raja Elo Shahorey, Shat Rang, Chena Ochena, Abanchhito, Dharapat, Shonali Akash, Ka Kha Ga Gha Uma, Protikar, Bodhu Bidhay, Nachghar, Janajani, Matir Pahar, Nabab Siraj-ud-Dowlah, Kotha Dilam, Abirbhab, Achena Athithi and more.
After some TV channels featured the artiste's current condition, Brigade Commander Brigadier General Anwarul Azim of Mymensingh Cantonment and Chairman of Mymensingh Municipality, Advocate Mahmud Al Noor Tareq came forward in Lalu's aid. Anwarul Azim donated Tk 10,000 in cash, a sewing machine and a hearing aid while Mahmud Al Noor donated Tk 5000 in cash and another hearing aid.
In a desolate tone, the once celebrated actor told The Daily Star, "I want to live. I want to survive.