“I started acting in theatre in 1962, when I was an MA student of Bangla at the University of Dhaka. My father however, did not approve of my job and had put a stop to it.”, says Dilara Zaman. “Our Department's Chairman at the time was Munir Chowdhury, and he wrote a letter to my father requesting him to allow me to act.” To her surprise, the letter worked and she subsequently appeared in her first play, Mayabi Prohor. It was scripted by Alauddin Al Azad, and included Abdullah Al Mamun and Dr. Enamul Haque in the main cast.
“I didn't act in telefims until 1964. Back then, all shows were aired live, and so their was absolutely no room for mistakes. We had to memorise our lines well,” she recalls, comparing the process with final exam preparations. “In my first tele-fiction, I co-starred with Azmeri Zaman and Syed Ahsan Ali Sydney. I still remember how my heart pounded while shooting,” she says.
The actor's work is praised throughout the industry for her natural talent and acting prowess. She recalls that she filmed her first outdoor scene on a boat, which presented a challenge. “I was portraying a young girl named Kulsum in the telefilm, Pidim, and in that scene I was cooking on that boat, and serving food to everyone. Despite the hardships it posed, the telefilm was received very well, making it worthwhile,” says a nostalgic Dilara Zaman.
Since everything was aired live at that point, it meant that the actors were unable to watch their own performances, which Dilara Zaman regretted. Around that time she appeared in what was to be one of the most famous tele-fictions, Dinraatri, starring acclaimed actors such as Abul Khair and Khaled Khan. It was filmed in Rampura Studios. “Bulbul Ahmed and Asaduzzaman Noor played my sons, while I played a very short-tempered mother,” says Dilara Zaman. The actor remembers feeling quite intimidated because an actor of the reputation of Bulbul Ahmed was portraying her son, and he was at the peak of his career at that point.
She further speaks about her fond memories on the sets of Dinraatri, recalling one peculiar incident where someone had spilled kerosene over their food during a night shoot. Only she and one other person in the crew knew what was going on. “In those days, it would have been difficult to buy more food at that time of the night, so we decided to go ahead and serve it anyway. Once I served food to the actors, everyone began to spit out their food in utter disgust, and some had even begun to vomit!” laughs Dilara Zaman, remembering the good times.