Shahed Ali is a renowned theatre artiste. Through his hard work and dedication, he has also made his way into television, films and web projects over the years. Born in Old Dhaka, he grew up in an environment that supports communal harmony. In a recent chat with The Daily Star, the talented actor talked about his fond memories of Durga Puja, his upcoming projects and more.
"Our festivities with friends in the area would begin from Mahalaya," Shahed shares. "There was a beautiful bond between all our neighbours. Old Dhaka is known for its grand celebrations."
He further asserted that slowly after the 90s, people began to become more reserved, as a fundamentalist mindset started to surge in. "I eventually had to shift from Old Dhaka due to my work life. Nevertheless, I still have friends who ask me to come over with my family during Puja."
Old Dhaka still holds the largest Durga Puja celebrations. However, due to reactions of some conservatives and religious extremists, people of other religions have limited their attendance in these celebrations.
Shahed mentioned that since childhood, he was taught at both home and school to treat people based on their deeds and behaviour, not their religion or gender.
"Living in communal harmony plays a great role in creating a society free from all kinds of discrimination," adds Shahed.
Every year till 1998, Shahed spent his evenings with his friends in Old Dhaka during Puja, right until Bijoya Dashami. "We all got new clothes and wore our best outfits. We listened to Puja special music and enjoyed different kinds of feasts," he shares.
He also shed light on the fact that a generation that grows up with proper care and values will help in creating a great society.
"We must work on building a nation free from religious and gender discrimination," states Shahed. "We see a lot of discussions on such issues on social media, but sadly, I don't see any significant changes in the real world. If we start practicing what we are writing on social media, I believe we will be able to bring about real, positive changes."
Currently, Shahed is busy with the shooting of "Nawab LL.B." It will be the first Bangladeshi film to have its premiere on an OTT platform. "The film focuses on the oppression of and brutality against women," he shares.
He will also be seen in Gias Uddin Selim's "Jatri", a Binge original. He is also working on the television serials, "Amma"and "The Director", alongside other projects.