Rafi Hossain: Welcome to Uncensored with Rafi Hossain. Today, we have with us the beloved actor Asaduzzaman Noor. Noor Bhai, thank you for giving us your time. You recently started working in theatre after a long break. After how long did you start working there again?
Asaduzzaman Noor: I think I got back onstage after almost twenty years. I ended my long hiatus with the drama, Kalo Joler Kabbo. When I got back onstage, it felt like I was starting everything all over again. However, since I had done a lot of work in theatre before, it was all very familiar to me. But, I must say, it was very difficult to take a break from acting. Whenever I went to watch a theatre play, it left a void in my heart as I missed acting terribly. Even though taking a break was hard, working in the government and getting to help people made it all worthwhile. With the help of our honourable Prime Minister and the government, I got to help the people from my area. The Prime Minister even made an EPZ there, and even though it was closed temporarily, it employs over 40,000 people now. I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to work for the development of my area.
Rafi Hossain: Is there any link or similarity between acting and politics?
Asaduzzaman Noor: Both require people to be very passionate. If you’re not passionate about helping your country grow and don’t have the zeal to help people, you won’t be a good politician. That similar passion is also what makes a good actor.
Rafi Hossain: When you first started, it was very
uncommon for actors to portray lead roles while having a beard. Yet you managed to play some iconic characters. How so?
Asaduzzaman Noor: When I first grew my beard, many people suggested me to keep it as the look suited me. When I was having a difficult time convincing the producers or directors to keep my beard, I told them about how people from every profession or upbringing have beards. A rickshaw puller may have a beard, my father was a teacher and he had a beard, a politician can have a beard, and an actor can definitely have a beard. I kept it and still got the opportunity to do many roles. Back then, it was very rare to see actors having beards, but now a beard has become a fashion statement. If you look at Bollywood, you will see many famous actors sporting beards.
Rafi Hossain: How do you react when you receive appreciation for your work?
Asaduzzaman Noor: Something that surprises me a lot is that I see many young people knowing about my work. Initially, I didn’t understand how they saw my acting because my works aren’t usually aired on television, but I soon learnt that they looked them up on YouTube. I find myself very lucky to have been able to make characters which are even watched by the new generation.
Rafi Hossain: While developing a character, do you always use the same methods?
Asaduzzaman Noor: The methods always stay more or less the same. While making a character, I have to make it realistic, so I take inspiration from people around me. I do make certain parts by utilising my imagination, but a huge portion of it is taken from reality.
Rafi Hossain: When you worked on ‘Kalo Joler Kabbo’, did the director give you specific instructions on how the character should be?
Asaduzzaman Noor: The director did give me a general idea, but he can’t instruct me about what the character will be like in every shot. When I was talking to the director about my character, I pitched in some ideas of my own. When I read the script for a role, I can imagine what it will be like, so I make suggestions based on that. For example, I brought in a humorous flair to Shylock’s character in this play.
Rafi Hossain: You have had a close relationship with Humayun Ahmed. Was that built through work or did you know each other before that?
Asaduzzaman Noor: I didn’t know him personally prior to our work. He once watched one of my plays, I don’t recall which, and really liked it. He then called me for taking part in one of his plays, and that marked the beginning of our friendship.
Rafi Hossain: Are you inspired by the acting of any artist?
Asaduzzaman Noor: It does happen, but it isn’t conscious. When I see good acting, I really appreciate it. So, it may lay an impression on me. If we’re talking about specific people, I’m a huge fan of Dustin Hoffman. Nasiruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Om Puri are all actors I look up to. Richard Burton and Sophia Loren have also been my idols. Recently, I’ve really liked Joker. Joaquin Phoenix’s acting was amazing. Iat seemed like he has been heavily influenced by theatre.
Rafi Hossain: Foreign theatre plays have this flair that we don’t. What is lacking here?
Asaduzzaman Noor: It mostly has to do with the artists not doing theatre full-time. Even in Kalo Joler Kabbo, all of the performers have other jobs. They came to practice when they’re free, so the aura of professional theatre cannot be easily formed. It’s not that foreign theatre performers are all professional, but they dedicate all their time to a production. That isn’t possible here.
Rafi Hossain: Do you want to do more theatre
direction or writing in the future?
Asaduzzaman Noor: I honestly don’t like giving direction. I find it quite challenging. I have to make something different, but that requires a lot of thinking. That’s why I prefer acting. As for writing, I don’t find the time or the urge. I like talking to people, but talking and writing aren’t the same. However, I want to publish an autobiography. I wrote some bits and pieces here and there. I lived through the liberation war and met so many prominent personalities, and I consider myself very lucky, so I think this is something that should be penned down.
Rafi Hossain: Can you talk about your children?
Asaduzzaman Noor: It sometimes feels like I haven’t been the greatest father to my children. I should have given them more time, and this I regret now. Nevertheless, they have turned out well. My son and daughter are creative thinkers. My daughter also did some acting, but my son is a little introverted. They aren’t into acting anymore because of academic pressures.
Rafi Hossain: What is your X-Factor?
Asaduzzaman Noor: There are a lot more people like me, so I wouldn’t say that I have any X-Factor. However, I think I’m really lucky to have been able to work with Aly Zaker, Humayun Ahmed and Ataur Rahman, among others. They’ve had their contribution on my success. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from many great people. I would credit Aly Zaker and Humayun Ahmed the most. Humayun Ahmed was a very passionate individual. He was also unpredictable, impulsive and a perfectionist. He loved being with friends. I respected him as a writer and he respected me as an actor. We had a good relationship. I dearly miss him.
Rafi Hossain: I’m worried about our culture dying out. Are you too?
Asaduzzaman Noor: I don’t quite agree, but I think that society is moving forward very fast. The whole world is becoming digital. This was a shock to the people, and this lead to a sort of haphazardness in everyone’s life. We couldn’t keep pace with the quickly changing times. However, in the face of danger, we find ourselves again; we find unity. I think Bangla culture and literature will live on, otherwise why would our cultural festivals still be celebrated with so much passion? We’re too hard on the new generation. We have to show them the right way; nurture them properly. This is where we should work the hardest.
Rafi Hossain: Do you think we can reach the place where we don’t have to worry about cultural
Asaduzzaman Noor: I think we can. The academic institutions are trying. Even our Prime Minister stresses on the importance of our culture. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to be associated with these activities, but cultural education leads to significant development in thinking.
Rafi Hossain: It was a pleasure talking to you, Noor Bhai. Thank you so much.