Popular actor-director Salauddin Lavlu's plays always attract the attention of a niche audience, especially in the rural areas. Recently, a nostalgic Lavlu drew on his childhood memories in a conversation with The Daily Star. Excerpts:
“My father was a government official, so my school days were spread across different districts like Narail, Jhenidah, Magura and Jessore. However, the golden time in my life was when I visited my grandfather's village home Jugia near Kushtia town during holidays.
“I have many fond memories of Jugia village. During school vacations, we left for Jugia bag and baggage. The Gorai River flows just beside my grandfather's home where a haat (village market) was held every week. People from different villages came there by boat. I cherish that memory even today.
“During the visits to our village home, I enjoyed spending time with the cowherds and farmers who tilled my grandfather's fields. Sometimes, I rode a bullock cart with them when we harvested paddy. Besides, I used to pull the plough, which resulted in injuries to my legs.
“I can't forget the taste of charred chhola that we used to eat those days. Apart from this, it was very exciting to fish in my grandfather's pond. At night, the sight of the processing of paddy by cows was really enjoyable.
“I grew up under the watchful eye of my grandmother Rahela Khatun, who was married at the age of nine and widowed after a year. She used to save every penny for me all the year round. I would spend the money watching movies. I have many fond memories of my grandmother.
“My native home was adjacent to the homes of the potter and weaver communities. I spent most of my time with them. When I was an eighth or ninth grader, I would hang out with the boys of the fishermen community on the banks of the Nilganj River in Jessore. They became my closest friends.
“Actor Azizul Hakim and I studied together at Jessore Government High School and Magura Government High School. Hakim's father was also a government official. We have been friends ever since. Later, on our arrival in Dhaka, we both joined Ideal College.
“Hakim and I used to cycle around the city. One day, we went to see BTV out of curiosity where we met Mamunur Rashid. At one point, Hakim wished to work in theatre. To realise that dream, we went to TSC and met Mamunur Rashid. Finally, both of us joined Aranyak Nattaydal.
“In 1980, I first acted in a play “Dinratrir Khela”, based on the story of two close friends. Scripted by Mamunur Rashid, the play was aired on BTV.
“I made my directorial debut with a play “Kaitobo”, featuring Golam Mostafa, Aly Zaker, Khaled Khan, Shamsul Alam Bokul and others. That was when the trend of package drama had just kicked off. The audience received “Kaitobo” very warmly.
“As my parents were musically inclined, they wanted me to take to singing in my younger days. So I gained admission at Surbitan, but it didn't work out as I lost interest in music and preferred to hang out with my friends. “Whenever I am lonely, these unforgettable memories keep me happy.”