I was wondering how a person in his late sixties could work from dawn to dusk! I had the privilege of talking to Mamunur Rashid on the day followed by the celebration ceremony of him being awarded the Ekushey Podok, the highest civilian award for a Bangladeshi, at Shilpakala Academy. His words were my muse in the candle lit rooftop where the seriousness of the moment flew into the darkness of the night. I realized why Mamunur Rashid is called a versatile genius. Being born in 1948 in Tangail, he has established himself as a master mind. He is at a time a director, actor and script writer. He has contributed to the stage drama scenario of Bangladesh so profoundly that a new trend of storytelling has evolved in his time. The sorrows and happiness, frustration and hope, struggle and triumph of the marginalized people of our country is the central theme in almost all of his works. Driven by his creative impulse, he has worked on different aspect of the Bangladeshi traditional cultural identity. He has worked on the glorious war of independence, cultural uniqueness, ordinariness of Bengali social life, etc. Whereas many artists did not think for raising awareness in social issues let alone the representation of cultural heritage, Mamunur Rashid wrote scripts and organized street drama in order to raise awareness and to disseminate the pleasure of drama among the mass. Many a men have been inspired and entertained through his works.
Philosophy of Life
Nothing can be more important than finding harmony, equality and basic rights for human beings. Being motivated by the Marxist philosophy in life, he always tried to raise his voice for the marginalized and the oppressed people, the outcast of our society. 'Rarang' is an important stage drama where he entails the story of Santals, the tribal and truly indigenous people of Bangladesh. Besides, he is also influenced by the aestheticism, the Aristotelian aspect in life. Again, Frantz Fanon, Augusto Boal, Noam Chomsky are equally important to him.
The ground of his inspiration is very simple- the life struggle of subaltern. The concept of ordinariness in life, spontaneous emotion and sense of loss inspire him in writing dramas. He prefers introducing himself as a propagandist rather than an artist. In this case, he propagates the sorrows and sufferings of landless people. The injustice encountered by the landless tribes and their lack of basic citizen rights inspire him in finding his artistic theme.
Icons of Life
As a writer and director of drama, he has to watch a lot of things. He considers Charlie Chaplin as his idol. Again, Bijon Bhattacharya and Khwaja Ahmed Abbas of our subcontinent influenced him a lot. But unlike great producers and directors, his choice is not confined to Indian subcontinent only. Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoevsky from Russia and Tennessee Williams from America have major influences on him. Satyajit Roy and Ritwik Ghatak have inspired him throughout his path.
Once, he was troubled with hiccups at a specific point of his dialogue with the heroine when he was working on 'Manush', a play. Being asked on to share another interesting story of his life, he shared that once he was working with a play which entails the story of a ghost. Coincidentally, it happened that the files after shooting was erased from the camera somehow and everybody believed that it was the ghost which did it. He, who knew the fact, did not try to break the belief of the crew during the second shoot!
Actors: His favorite actors and actresses are not particular to names and places and he watches a lot of movies and plays. In Bollywood, he likes Naseeruddin Shah, Irrfan Khan and Farhan Akhtar the most. Utpal Dutt, Soumitra Chatterjee , Soumitra Chatterjee and Rituparno Ghosh are in his favorite list from Indian Bangla Film.
Director: In direction, Giasuddin Selim, Animesh Aich and Nurul Alam Atique are his favorites. In stage direction, Fayez Jahir, Azad Abul Kalam and Ananta Hira are in his list of favorites.
Movies: Shobdo, Mrittika Maya and Ekattorer Khudiram.
Singer: Usually he listens to folk singers like Mita Haque, Aditi Mohsin and Farida Parvin. Besides, he also listens to band music which are melodius rather than highly musical or vocal. He is a fan of Sanjeeb Chowdhury. A. R Rahman and Shubha Mugdal from India attracts him a lot too.
Author: He has grown a habit of reading books from his childhood days. Arundhati Roy, Orhan Pamuk and Paulo Coelho are to be mentioned as his favorite authors. Besides, he also enjoys the writings of Manju Sarkar, Akhteruzzaman Elias, Sawkat Ali and Bulbul Chowdhury. Moreover, he considers poetry to be the mother of all kinds of artistic work. He likes Poet Abul Hasan and Poet Nirmalendu Goon the most.