Bangladeshi megastar Ashraf Uddin Ahmed stepped into the film industry in 1970, teaming up with famous filmmaker Subhash Dutta in Binimoy. Known by his stage name Uzzal, the actor's pairing with Sarah Kabori is still remembered by the audience.
Following the success of his debut film, the actor went on to ace all the characters he portrayed — be it in the genre of romance, social satire or action. He earned the title of 'megastar' for his relentless contribution to Bangladeshi cinema in the last 50 years.
"Lady luck was kind to me with Binimoy. After that, Samadan (1972) and Bondhu (1978) managed to set the nation ablaze," the star says, reminiscing the crowd of movie lovers he became used to seeing in front of the movie halls, when his films hit theatres.
"Binimoy, Samadan and Bondhu were the turning points at beginning of my career," he adds. "The song Bondhu Tor Barat Niye Ami Jabo, picturised on me and Nayak Raj Razzak, riddled the heart of the nation back then, and still manages to strike a chord with the audience today."
Loke Bole Rag Naki Anurag Er Aaina from the film Samadan is the song remembered by most as one of Uzzal's definitive works. "I attracted the attention of everyone as a lead actor through this song," he smiles.
Many claim that the actor's comic timing in Leye Korey Biye (1973) was the sole reason behind the film's success.
Azizur Rahman's Onuvob (1977) marks as a milestone in his career. The number Jodi Shundor Ekkhan Mukh Paitam, from the film featuring him opposite Shabana, manages to make it to hit retro music lists even today.
In 1973, the star again appeared alongside Sarah Kabori in Subhash Dutta's film Balaka Mon. "The song Akti Phuler Pashe Jodi Arekti Phul Ashe has always been one of my personal favourites," says a nostalgic Uzzal.
His performance in the film Pinjor (1977), especially in the song Chithi Diyo Protidin, became a fan-favourite overnight, as did the romantic film Onuragh (1979), directed by Kamal Ahmed. Sonibarer Chithi (1974) opposite Babita and Lalon Fakir were slightly different from his previous mainstream releases. . "Lalon Fakir spiritually brought me closer to the lives of people from all walks of society," he mentions.
Uzzal's phenomenal performances in the Duti Mon Duti Asha, Donnhi Meye and Paye Cholar Path, among many others, have only added more shine to the golden era of Bangladeshi cinema.
In Samadhi, Uzzal shared the screen with legends Razzak, Babita and Shuchorita, making for a memorable collaboration.
Uzzal's action-packed releases were an interesting turn in his career. Pairing with the prominent director Mamtaz Ali, the star gained strong ground with Ushila (1982), Nasib, and Nalish (1982). "Nasib was a record-breaking release," Uzzal recalls joyfully. "Due to sheer demand, even night shows were arranged for it."
The actor last appeared in Shamim Ahamed Roni's Shahenshah (2020). "I devoted 50 years of my life to this industry. I wish to keep entertaining my fans till my last breath," he concludes.
Translated by Ashley Shoptorshi Samaddar