It was only last year when legendary actor Abdur Razzak had a grand celebration at his Gulshan home with friends, family and well wishers. No one could’ve foreseen it would soon become his final birthday. The nation mourned with his passing, as his on-screen charisma touched everyone at the core. Today, on his 76th
birthday, we pay homage to the larger than life star.
I had the honour of getting to know the “Nayokraj” when I made a small biopic about him. This was a man who practiced his craft with a level of professionalism and humility I had never seen in an actor of his stature. He had a terribly busy schedule; so he had to defer our interview quite a few times. But everytime he needed to shift the date, he’d send a text beforehand confirming his next availability. We never needed to ask him twice, or even once for that matter, whether he could make it to the set on time. I still remember how his texts, letting our team know when and where he’ll be available throughout that day, always arrived at 10am.
We, the ‘millennials,’ didn’t get to see Razzak in the theatres in his prime. Our introduction to this legend was through television or from second hand accounts of our mothers or aunts, who recall him with such fondness that you can easily sense a lot of women, from the 60s to the 80s, must’ve been in love with his silver screen persona. I hear their exquisite accounts and think to myself, who will our generation babble about with this much passion? Maybe audiences from different backgrounds and tastes will tattle about different actors, in the absence of one singular “Nayokraj” who appeals to all.
Through talking to audiences who saw Razzak’s films in the theatres, I gathered “Razzak-Kabori” was one of the most popular on-screen duos of that time. Zahirul Haque’s “Rangbaaz” (1973), Subhash Dutta’s “Abirbhab” (1968), Zahir Raihan’s “Jibon Theke Neya” (1970), “Anowara” (1967) etc were some of his most popular films according to these spectators. One fan mentioned N G Mita’s “Deep Nebhe Nai” (1970) as her all time favourite Razzak film, while another stated “Ononto Prem” (1977), a movie Razzak helmed and starred in, as hers.
After a five year hiatus in the 90s, Razzak made a bold comeback with “Baba Keno Chakor” in 1997, where he was the writer, producer, director and lead actor. He never took another break till his death on August 21, 2017. While it’s impossible to replace him, his eternal appeal will continue to bear proof that one charismatic actor can unite all audiences, transcending every contrived social divide.