Born as MA Jalil Ananta, AJ is popular as an actor, director, producer, businessman, philanthropist and most recently – as a preacher of Islam. Born in Munshiganj and raised in Shukrabad, Dhaka, Ananta lost his mother when he was five years old, and was then raised along with his elder brother by their father.
After years of hard work, Ananta made his existence known to the people of Bangladesh and people around the world. Throughout his life, Ananta has made it to the headlines with many of his diverse activities. Showtime thought about exploring the various identities of AJ, the man who can defy even the impossible.
A successful businessman
Ananta started his profession as a production general manager in 1999. Later on, he set up a small garment factory which grew up to become AJI Group after years of hard work. Ananta Jalil is now the proud chairman and managing director of AJI Group Industrial Park. For his contributions in the RMG sector, he was awarded CIP (commercially important person) status multiple times. He also received the National Export Trophy, awarded by the prime minister of Bangladesh.
A famous film star
When he established himself as a successful businessman, Ananta decided to enter into the film industry and launched his personal production house, Monsoon Films, in 2008. He stepped into the film industry with Khoj: The Search in 2010. The movie drew a huge amount of public attention after a massive promotional campaign on national and international media. The trailer and pre-released item numbers of Khoj: The Search went viral on Facebook and YouTube, and instantly turned into an internet meme.
Ananta also made waves for his multidimensional roles in a single film. The myriad internet trolls and criticism barely stopped him from producing and acting in more films. Khoj: The Search was followed by Hridoy Bhanga Dheu in 2011.
In 2012, he appeared in two films, The Speed and Most Welcome. Both the films were major commercial successes and gave him a breakthrough in Bangladeshi cinema. In The Speed, Ananta starred opposite two foreign actresses, Malaysian actress Parveen and Russian actress Nana. The other release, Most Welcome was an Eid special. Despite smashing criticism faced by Ananta throughout his career, he never failed to receive media attention with his bizzare action films.
In 2013, his only release was Nishwartha Bhalobasa. The film marked the directional debut of the actor. Its story, dialogue, screenplay, and the lyrics of a song were all written by him, and he was the stunt master of the film as well. Interestingly, it was premiered at the 66th annual Cannes Film Festival, after which Ananta declared the film as a blockbuster hit.
An Islamic preacher
Most recently, Ananta Jalil turned into an Islamic preacher overnight and made it to the headlines of several international media outlets.
The 39 year old actor joined the Tablighi Jamaat -- a Sunni Muslim evangelical movement that boasts millions of adherents in Bangladesh -- after a pilgrimage to Mecca earlier this year. Ananta now wants to use his fame to inspire young people to take the path of Islam.
Ananta was seen travelling around the country recently to preach Islam. Photos of him wearing an Islamic turban and long robe went viral on social media. However, Jalil said he will keep making movies, even though his next one will be used to “propagate Islam.”
Ananta is also a philanthropist who owns and runs three orphanages and a retirement home for senior citizens located in Dhalla, Hemayetpur, Dhaka. Ananta donated a huge sum of money to the victims of the 2013 Savar building collapse. He also helped the late actor financially Anwar Hossain for his treatment.
He is known to have supported a number of people who were in need of money for health treatment. AJ also donated to the construction of various mosques including “Baitus Shah Jamme Masjid” located in Hemayetpur, Dhaka.
Ananta’s identity as a philanthropist was widely publicised once again recently, when he announced he will provide assistance to almost 2,400 flood-affected families in three unions in Kurigram.
The actor travelled to Kurigram to provide aid to flood victims. After landing in Chilmari, Ananta Jalil told Dhaka Tribune, “I came here to help the flood victims. This is not an act of sympathy. I think the people affected by the flood have the basic human right to get help.”
He has also repeatedly addressed the elite section of our society and asked them to come forward to support the flood victims with whatever means possible.