Tawsif Mahbub was going to engineering classes by day and playing bass with his band by evening, before he decided to do one tele-film that turned his life inside out. His mercurial rise over the last couple of years has seen him represent top brands as a model, as well as being arguably the most in-demand youngster on the small screen. In a recent conversation, Tawsif spoke to this correspondent about the limelight, his image, and the musician-turned-actor he gets compared to most.
When did it hit you that you're a star of sorts?
Tawsif: It happens to the fewest of people, but in my case it was with my very first work, the tele-film “@18”. It was so big that the day after it aired, I could not walk around Dhanmondi without people pointing me out. Most artistes have to work for years to get that sort of recognition, but I got a shortcut of some kind. And then I was fortunate to work with some of the big brands – Grameenphone and Mirinda being a few, that it just grew on.
You are a kind of 'craze' among young people. How do you deal with it?
Tawsif: I feel very fortunate. From the very first day, I have always tried to reply to all the Facebook messages and keep all the requests for selfies. I consider the audience feedback the biggest indicator of my work performance, and I want to stay as connected to them as I can.
Do you think most roles you do are a little one-dimensional?
Tawsif: To be honest, I have done a lot of similar roles, of characters that are not very different from my real-life self. But it's got a lot to do with directors, too: they have sort of created a 'Boy Next Door' image for me, and I only get offered those kinds of roles. Since I do not have a theatrical background, I want to become better as an actor, so I'm trying to break out of it. I get compared to Tahsan bhai a lot (chuckles), but I don't want to be stuck to a type-cast. Recently, I've been trying different looks and persona, sometimes myself suggesting changes of my character to the director. I want to push the envelope, and see where it takes me.
Who is the best actress you have worked against?
Tawsif: Has to be Mou apa (Sadia Islam Mou). I was lucky enough to do a TV work named “Calling Bell” with her; she is a fantastic actress, and she is gorgeous, but most of all, she is the most helpful co-artiste I have worked with, on and off-screen.
You started as a musician. Do you miss those days?
Tawsif: I do. I did over a hundred performances with my band, The Manager, and with some other projects as well. I used to organise concerts too. Recently, I met a model who said she loved my band's song “Natok”, and that compliment made me feel better than any I have got for my work in actual 'natok' (TV plays). I still jump at any chance to play music.