Renowned theatre personality, language movement activist and Ekushey Padak recipient Momtazuddin Ahmed passed away at 3:48pm in the Intensive Care Unit of Apollo Hospital in the capital yesterday.
He was 85 years old.
Both the prime minister and president expressed grief on his passing.
Born on January 18, 1935, in Malda of West Bengal, Momtazuddin Ahmed made remarkable contributions in many different fields of our culture -- the most prominent being theatre. His theatre troupe, which he led for decades, Topkhana, was one of the most popular ones in its time.
Renowned actor Ahsanul Haq Minu, who was also in the troupe, said, “We have spent many years together…I will never forget him.”
Munira Yusuf Memy, a member of the troupe, said, “His contributions in the theatre arena are incomparable. He will be dearly missed.”
The legendary playwright had written 25 stage plays in total, all of which were revered highly amongst critics and the general public. Some of his notable works are Shatghater Kana Kori, Jomidar Dorpon, Hridoy Ghotito Bepar Shepar, Nattotroyi, Rakkhushi and Bokulparer Shadhinota.
Besides writing scripts, he also directed and acted in many plays.
“After independence, a very select number of people with a passion for theatre worked together,” said Mamunur Rashid, one of the living legends of Bangladeshi theatre, adding, “Professor Momtazuddin Ahmed was one of the most talented of the bunch, and I am proud to have worked with him. Theatre will never forget him.”
Momtazuddin also acted and wrote scripts for many popular television dramas. Among those, Bondhu Amar and Shohochor are the most popular.
As a teacher, he was a respected figure in multiple renowned institutions in the country for over 32 years. He was a parttime lecturer in the Department of Drama and Music in Jaggannath University and Dhaka University.
From 1976 to 1978, he was in charge of formulating the national curriculum and text books. From 1977 to 1980, he was the director for Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy’s Research and Publications division. He also served the Bangladesh Permanent Mission to the United Nations as cultural minister.
He was also known for his talent as a writer. Among his notable works, Ami and Lalu Shalu Ebong Syed Waliullah stand out. Ki Chaho Shankhachil and Raja Anushwarer Pala are included in the curriculum of Kolkata’s Rabindra Bharati University.
An avid activist during the 1952 Language Movement, he was jailed many times while he fought for the Bangla language.
In 1976, he was honoured with the Bangla Academy award for his contributions as a playwright. In 1997, he won the prestigious Ekushey Padak, one of the highest civilian honours in Bangladesh. He also won the Alaol Literary Award, as well as a special recognition from Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
The legendary artiste was battling old-age complications for long. He was taken to Apollo Hospital on June 1. He lost his battle for life after two days.
Momtazuddin’s first namaz-e-janaza was held in Azad Mosque in Gulshan yesterday. His second janaza will be held at the DU Central Mosque at 9:00am today. He will be buried in his paternal home town in Chapainawabganj today.
He left behind his wife, two sons, and two daughters.