Mumbai, Oct 28 (PTI) Bangladeshi actor Arifin Shuvoo says he considers himself fortunate that he got the opportunity to collaborate with Indian cinema veteran Shyam Benegal for the biographical drama “Mujib: The Making of a Nation”.
The India-Bangladesh co-production narrates the life story of the first president of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was affectionately known as Bangabandhu-The Friend of Bengal. He was assassinated in 1975 with most of his family members.
Shuvoo, known for his work in mainstream Bangladeshi films “Purno Doirgho Prem Kahini”, “Bhalobasha Zindabad”, “Chuye Dile Mon”, “Musafir”, and “Dhaka Attack”, plays the titular part.
"I’m still in disbelief. Till my last breath, I'll be in a dilemma if I’ve actually worked with 'The Shyam Benegal', who directed Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, Om Puri and so many talented actors. I’ll just cherish this moment to have worked with him and play this role," the actor told PTI in an interview.
Shuvoo said the director advised him to concentrate on capturing Rahman's spirit rather than focusing on the physicality of the character.
"It was the most difficult role. My father is a freedom fighter but I’ve never been politically affiliated with anything. The people of Bangladesh have a picture of Bangabandhu etched in their mind, like the way he would talk, walk, sit, and everything about him. So, I started coping up with these external things from the first day.
"But Shyam Benegal was like, 'He was just Mujib, then he became Mujib bhai, then Bangabandhu,' and if I focus on getting the gestures and external things right, then I'll find it difficult to understand Mujib. He told me to capture the soul instead of getting the external. That’s how the whole perception changed for me and that’s why I could do whatever I did in the film," he said.
The 41-year-old actor said he was approached to audition for the role after "Mujib" screenwriter Shama Zaidi saw one of his films, "Ahaa Re", at a festival in Mumbai.
Shuvoo overcame the baggage of a commercial hero to bag the role and was selected after several rounds of auditions in both India and Bangladesh.
"They auditioned me for the role of Mujib in Bangladesh but nobody called me back, everybody thought, ‘I’m just a commercial hero’. The casting director texted me saying, ‘If I'm interested in meeting Shyam Benegal in Kolkata then I should come’. I took the next flight and came to India.
“I remember telling him, ‘Are you sure you want me for this (role) because on screen I flirt with heroines and fight with the villains.’ He started laughing and said, ‘We will know after the audition’. After about three-four months and five to ten rounds of auditions, I was told, ‘You are doing Mujib’," the actor recalled.
Shuvoo said he is hopeful the Indian audience will warm up to "Mujib: The Making of a Nation", which was released in theatres on Friday.
Going ahead, the actor said he wants to work with noted Hindi filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani and is a fan of his 2009 movie "3 Idiots".
"I would like to collaborate with everyone and everybody here. There are a lot of Bengali directors like Anurag Basu, Shoojit Sircar, Srijit Mukherjee, but one person I’m a huge fan of is Rajkumar Hirani. His films have helped me in my life. If I ever get a chance to play a small role in his film, I would love to do that," he said.
"Mujib" is co-produced by Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (BFDC) and India's NFDC. The film is made under the Audio Visual Co-Production Agreement between the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh & the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
The film also features Nusrat Imrose Tisha, Nusraat Faria, Chanchal Chowdhury, Riaz Ahmed, Fazlur Rahman Babu, Tauquir Ahmed, and a special appearance by Siam Ahmed. PTI KKP SHD RB SHD SHD