Prominent actor- director- screenwriter, Mamunur Rashid has created ripples in the theatre world. Mastermind behind theatre troupe Aranyak Nattaya Dal, he has also taken on TV plays. He turns 68 today, but is celebrating only his 17th birthday, as his birthday falls on February 29, and comes only on leap years. The Daily Star interviewed the towering figure of media world on his big day. Excerpts:
People celebrate their birthday every year, but your turn comes once every four years. What are your birthday plans this time?
Mamunur Rashid: I have some ideas. People don't need to bother about my birthday as it comes every four years. Counting birthdays, I will be 17 this year (laughs). But actually I’m 68 today.
What brings meaning to your life?
Mamunur Rashid: Life means work and feeling. Am I seeing nature around me? Am I feeling everything around me? If I can, I’m living my life. Is my life of 68 years really meaningful for me? Every day I encounter questions, like can I really do something for people in my long journey? Every day I ask myself these questions. Sometimes I think wish I could give something more.
Do you have any regrets when you look back at your 68 years?
Mamunur Rashid: A lot, especially the mistakes I made in my early days. My life span doesn’t; what’s important is my work. Shakespeare lived for only 52 years, yet we are still millions of miles behind what he achieved in that short span.
Why did you choose acting as a profession?
Mamunur Rashid: I grew up watching theatre at my village home. In my childhood, the stage play “Sohrab Rostom” was a great inspiration. A stage play can make people happy and sad. On the whole, destiny paved my way for the life of arts and entertainment.
Do memories of your youth flood back sometimes?
Mamunur Rashid: Often. We used to hang out at Sharif Mia’s canteen at Dhaka University. We often stayed there late into the night. Poets Nirmalendu Goon and the late Abul Hossain are my friends from that time.
Many young artistes attribute their success to you. How does it make you feel?
Mamunur Rashid: It’s a great achievement for any artiste. A number of artistes came to the spotlight through Aranyak Nattaya Dal. Many have become dramatists, directors and designers, besides actors.
Any fields that you want still want to foray into?
Mamunur Rashid: I want to make a film, although I don’t know when it will come about. Acting is now my profession. For my livelihood I’m still seen on camera. Besides, I’m active on stage.
What do you consider your biggest achievement?
Mamunur Rashid: People’s love and adulation.
Any favourite song?
Mamunur Rashid: One Rabindra Sangeet titled “Labonney Purno Pran” and another Nazrul Sangeet-- “Bhuli Kemone Ajo Je Mone”.