Group Chief Communications Officer of Mutual Trust Bank, Azam Khan, talks about his extensive work for the small screen with Dhaka Tribune Showtime’s Al Faruque Ratul
When did you first develop an interest in the acting profession?
In my childhood I worked in many social and extra-curricular organizations. I participated in speech competitions and debates, and worked for Science club and children’s organization. I have done mime-acting, poetry recitation, and similar things for “Chander Haat”, a cultural organization. Another factor was this desire to work with something in the realm of extra-curricular.
When I began my professional career, I worked personally in public relations, communications, and marketing. I had to work with the media as a spokesperson and attend many television talk shows, regarding trade, commerce, and sports. While doing all these, at one point I felt like trying my hand at acting for TV. In the course of working with the media I was motivated to think that, if I get the chance to work in this sector, it would be nice.
So, I requested two individuals from ATN Bangla; one person was Mir Motahar Hasan and the other was singer Chandan Sinha. They introduced me to a lot of people. Through those connections I came into acting on July 3rd of 2015. So far, I have worked in 70 different projects that include 60 one-hour dramas and several TV serials, music videos, commercials, etc. I am especially grateful towards Chayanika Chowdhury, as she has shown me on-screen the most. Having a platform is important. You may have talent, but if you do not get opportunities, then you will not be able to express your talent.
Do you have any significant memory from the first day of your acting career?
The first time I came in front of the camera was the day my mother passed away. My mother’s contribution and involvement in my life are the most significant. When she was alive, I used to visit her at least once before heading out. She was ill for a long time and was in the hospital on the day of my first acting gig. I met her in the morning to receive her blessing, since I was about to enter a new field of work. I lost my mother when I was in front of the camera. It is a very painful memory for me as she could not see any of my acting work before her demise.
Were there any actors you grew up watching who inspired you to become an actor?
My school-going days were the age of black-&-white Bangladesh Television. Back then, there was this very popular TV program called “Shoptoborna” done by Abdullah Abu Sayeed. There was another fan favorite daily soap titled “Sakal Sandhya”, featuring Pijush Bandyopadhyay and Afroza Banu. After that there was “Ei Shob Din Ratri” in which Asaduzzaman Noor’s acting was able to touch me. His popularity was all-encompassing, so much so, that to watch his performance people used to return home before nightfall and the roads would become empty. All those experiences in my student life have definitely touched my heart and inspired me. At that time I never even thought in my dreams that I will come to this world (of acting).
Please share with us the experience of working with Chayanika as a director.
Firstly she is a very talented and gifted director. If a “take” is not 100% perfect she does not “okay” it. She took me by the hand and trained me with utmost care, as I am new in this field. She is an emotional person with a strong personality which brings out the creativity within her. I was able to explore the different roles I can portray due to her creativity. The first time I worked with her was in the set for “Shesher Pore”. I played a lawyer dealing with a couple’s separation. The scene was at the very end, but the dialogues and the plot was as such, that I had the opportunity to try a lot of things. Chayanika always tries to bring out the best in me.
Without any doubt she is one of the most popular directors in Bangladesh. The number of her work has probably reached 360 or 365. I have worked in 35 of those projects, which is half off all the work that I have done. I experience a homely environment while working with her as I know everyone in her team and unit. I enjoy working with her.
Chayanika deserves the credit for me being able to work with so many different artists, as she features various actors in her works. The other directors with whom I have worked are also very talented storytellers. They have tried to give me more opportunities for which reason; I was able to explore my full range as an actor. Among directors I have worked with Sajjad Shumon, Golam Sohrab Dudul, Mahfuz Ahmed, Tuhin Hossain, Shakawat Manik, and many other popular directors.
Please share with us the experience of working with your fellow actors.
I have worked with many actors from the 80s, 90s, and even the newest teen sensations. I have been given a lot of support from the senior actors, who have thought of me as one of their own, and helped me perfect my craft. Among the seniors I have worked with Syed Hasan Imam, Anisur Rahman Milon, Tariq Anam Khan, Mahfuz Ahmed, Tauquir Ahmed, Afzal Hossain, Shahiduzzaman Selim and many others. Shuborna Mustafa, Shomi Kaiser, Afsana Mimi were also very supportive. I have also worked with new actors such as Mehzabin, Shabnam Faria, Nadia Nody, Nadia Mim, Sonia, Soha, Sohana Saba, Siam, Jovan and almost everyone else from this generation. I have worked with Sharmili Ahmed and Doly Johur. I grew up watching the senior actors I have mentioned, and I have had the opportunity to work with most of them.
I have studied their delivery styles, their looks, their expressions, etc. I have studied how they hold on to a particular demeanor, or how they lower their tone or make it louder. There is no end to learning and I have tried to learn the good things from them. The senior stars can be described as institutions (of acting), as they have worked for such a long time.
I did not have the opportunity to work with Abul Hayat, yet. If I do I will definitely take it up, as he is extremely gifted, and there is a lot to learn from him.
Do you have any interest for working in films?
I am definitely interested in working for the silver screen. It can be described as a dream of mine. If I were to think of this (acting) as a career, I came into this quite late. Therefore, if I get the opportunity (to work in a film) then I definitely will do so. Although, I am a little concerned about the character. I am curious about the part that will be offered to me.
How do you balance your work in the bank with your acting commitments? Do you face any challenges while giving time to your family?
One challenge is there, which is giving time to my family. Schedule-wise there is not any trouble, as weekends are two days. When there is work in Dhaka, I can work in the evenings. If there are big projects, then I take leave to manage that. There were instances when I worked at the office till evening, and then I drove to Faridpur for acting but the shooting was not complete, so I went back to the bank the next day and drove back to the set again. I have worked in Bogura, Cox’s Bazar, etc. The problem that remains is giving time to my family. I just have one daughter, and I miss her a lot. She misses me too. Most of the time I return very late at night, like at 11pm or 12am or even 1am, due to shooting. I miss her a lot during those instances. However, she waits for me. Aside from this I have not faced any other challenges so far.
Do you have any messages for the viewers? Do you recommend any particular work that you have done for your audience?
Firstly I will request the viewers to give me their blessing. The works that I have done so far for this Eid, I feel all of them are beautiful. Every one-hour drama has a unique story. I do not know actually, which particular work will be enjoyed the most by the viewers, but from my judgment I would say, all the projects have good work. I have tried to portray new and different characters for each, so that people may find me in newer roles. In some cases I had to speak in a particular dialect, or I had to appear in a completely different look. I have tried my best to participate in each.