It is, indeed, tricky to narrow down the identity of a personality as significant as Aly Zaker, in simplistic terms. An extraordinary actor, a brave freedom fighter and a successful businessperson, and perhaps above all – an amiable human being – he is a man of diversified talents. Today marks the 75th birthday of the great artiste.
Born in Chittagong, Aly Zaker spent his childhood in Kushtia. After Bangladesh gained independence, Aly Zaker’s first appearance on stage was in the play Kabor, arranged by Aranyak Natya Dal. However, a number of his memorable work came out when he joined Nagorik Natya Sampradaya, where he famously worked in plays like Galileo, Dewan Gazir Kissa, Nurul Diner Shara Jibon, Macbeth, among many others that made him perhaps the most famous stage actor of his time. Through Dewan Gazir Kissa, he teamed up with legendary writer and long-time friend Syed Shamsul Haque (1935-2016).
“I would pay to see every show that he played Galileo in,” Syed Shamsul Haque had said in a previous interview with The Daily Star, “he can breathe life into any character he plays. I had requested him to direct and play a part in Nurul Diner Shara Jibon, in which he balanced the roles perfectly.”
Some of his famous directorial ventures on stage are – Baki Itihash, Bidogdho Romonikul, Toilo Sankat, Ei Nishiddho Polli Te and Ocholayoton. On television, his most memorable parts were in Aj Robibar and Bohubrihi. He is the recipient of the prestigious Ekushey Padak (1999), Selim Al Deen Padak (2017) and the Shaheed Altaf Mahmud Padak (2017).
In 1975, Aly Zaker married theatre personality, entrepreneur and social activist, Sara Zaker. Their two children, Iresh Zaker and Sriya Sharbojoya, are successful individuals, with Iresh achieving a prolific acting career. “He is someone who can do 10 things at once, and he never stepped back from his responsibilities,” says Sara Zaker, “he has a big heart, and treats everyone with the same respect. I am grateful to be with him, and I indeed have learned a lot from him over the years.”
Eminent Bangladeshi actor Abul Hayat has acted in multiple plays and tele-fictions alongside Aly Zaker. “For many, many years, we have shared the stage together in the same theatre troupe,” he says, “Aly Zaker is not only an incomparable artiste, but a dear friend of mine. Many happy returns of the day to him. I hope that he returns to good health and takes the stage again soon, because we really need him there.” The last time that the two giants of the theatre world shared the stage was in 2016, in Dewan Gazir Kissa.
An active participant in the Liberation War, Aly Zaker was passionate about ensuring our right to speak our mother tongue. “Is Bangla being wiped off our land?” he would often ask himself as he went into the heart of battle. “When Aly went to fight for the country, he did so because his heart told him to, and a heart full of vengeance was his biggest weapon”, Syed Shamsul Haque had said.
“Even though we shared the stage together first in Aranyak Natya Dal, we had worked in Bangladesh Betar together as well,” said renowned theatre artiste Mamunur Rashid. Aly Zaker is a true luminary, and I hope that he gets well soon.”
Another famous actor and academician, Dr Enamul Haque, told The Daily Star that Aly Zaker is the most successful theatre artiste he has had the pleasure of working with. “His name is synonymous to success, and it feels really bad when such an inspiring and jolly personality is ill.
The sentiment is shared by the entire country, who is eager to see their favourite theatre personality back on stage as soon as possible. On this auspicious occasion, The Daily Star family wishes the famous and loved theatre hero good health and many happy returns of the day.