After the theatre classes at Dhanmondi road 8, a particular group of aspiring theatre activists used to spend time gossiping, while enjoying cups of tea and biscuits at Boshir’s tea stall at Kalabagan. When anyone in the group was frustrated about his or her future, or career, as is very common among struggling theatre activists, the rest of the group tried to cheer him or her up through the dialogue of a drama: ‘Fagun mash ashle dekhsene kaj kore furote parbeneane’ (when the good times come, there will be so many offers that you won’t find the time to do all of them).
A busy and popular actor of the television at present, Anisur Rahman Milon, was a member of this group. It can be said that Milon is currently passing the fagun mash of his career as prophesised by his friends so many years before. ‘During my busy schedules from time to time, I usually recall the dialogue,’ says Milon. ‘Other group members of our ‘‘adda’’ like Shoib, Rawnok, Suman Anwar and so on, are also established in the television media now,’ adds Milon.
This ‘good time’, has however, come to Milon’s life after much sacrifice and struggle. ‘Many a times, there were directors who had cast me and even handed me the scripts, only to take it away from me later with the excuse that the television channels want some known celebrities to do the roles in the dramas,’ reveals Milon. ‘This was essential so that they could sell the drama to the channels at a high price,’ he adds.
Even without the looks or the ‘hero’ image, Milon has made his career strong through sincere acting. He is still appreciated for his performance as Major Kamal in a drama called Bela Bhumi. Even after four years, people know Milon as Major Kamal.
In yet another drama, called ‘Modhu Moira’, Modhu is slapped by an influential man of the village when he disobeys him. Eventually, the man seeks Modhu’s forgiveness as his dying father wants to have sweets baked by Modhu Moira only. People appreciated Milon’s involvement, acting and understanding of the Modhu Moira character in the drama. He even received the Meril Prothom Alo award for his performance in the drama in 2006.
‘People still remember me through those performances and that is more important to me than any award,’ he says. ‘I feel very proud when people ask me “are you?” or “Modhu Moira”,’ he says.
Milon feels that his theatre background has helped his career a lot. ‘Of course, performance, combined with integrity, sincerity and hard work ensures success,’ he says. ‘But the theatre background provides actors with the confidence required to perform different roles,’ says Milon, who has been involved in theatre since his days as a student of class six.
At that tender age, Milon joined the children theatre group ‘Artonad’ and was involved in theatre throughout his student life. After his graduation and Masters in Social Welfare from Dhaka College, Milon joined the organisation ‘Democracy Watch’ as a project officer.
Despite having a fulltime job, he did not abandon his passion for acting and was still involved with theatre. ‘There was, however, a one and a half year-long gap when I could not manage any time for theatre,’ says Milon. After a while, he left the job and made himself available for performing in television dramas only.
‘This was a very crucial decision in my life and in the beginning, I did not get any calls from any director,’ he says. ‘It did upset me as not finding much footing in the media industry meant big trouble for me,’ he adds.
During this time, a director named Rulin Rahman provided Milon a chance to perform in the drama ‘Akay’. ‘This was my first break on television,’ he says. ‘I was so serious about drama that I marked the script in such a way that nothing could be read,’ he shares.
‘After performing in five dramas, there was again a gap when I had no work in my hands,’ he continues. During this time, Milon concentrated on script writing. He wrote four scripts named Ortopor, Baroyari, Somporko and Agol.
For the drama Ortopor, the director requested Milon to play a role. ‘This drama helped me prove my acting abilities to the directors and I received five drama offers, which I took and performed, following this particular performance,’ says Milon.
He then performed in the highly popular Ronger Manush serial, Doyita, Bela Bhumi, Modhu Moira, Haath Kora and so on. Milon also directed his own script Baroyari. ‘Doyita was challenging for me,’ he adds. There is an interesting story about the casting of the drama in which Noresh Da was the director, according to Milon. ‘While Noresh da was explaining the roles, his little son, who loves me very much, said that Milon da will be the hero in this drama. This influenced Noresh da and I was given the role of the protagonist in the play,’ says Milon.
Milon has also initiated his movie career. ‘Last Thakur’ was his first film. The film he is currently working on is titled Tumi ashbe bole bhalo bashbe bole. ‘This is my warm-up film,’ he says about the role. ‘People say a lot of things about our film industry. However, I strongly believe that in order to introduce our country to the world in a door to door level, cinema and sports are the best mediums,’ he explains.
‘You know West Indies for their cricket or the world know India through their films,’ he continues. ‘So I want to concentrate more on films, although it is true that there are many irregularities in the Bangladeshi film industry. But I believe everything will be all right in the long run,’ he adds.
Milon has three siblings. His younger brother is a network engineer while his two sisters are married and live in Dhaka. Milon’s father, Nurur Rahman, died just three years ago. His mother, Payera Begum, is a house wife. Milon is married to Lucy, a theatre activist herself, who did her Masters in drama and dramatics from Jahangirnagar University.
Every year, on December 31, Milon makes a resolution for the next year. ‘On this day, I try to judge my year-long performance through the roles that are distinctively remembered by the audience,’ he says. ‘Of course, this year my plan will be to concentrate more on my work and to find some quality roles. I do not want brief popularity but rather want to be remembered by people for my sincere and hard work. And I always like to cross my abilities’ threshold,’ he concludes.