The other day, I was listening to a song from the movie “Bondini” which I heard in childhood. The lyrics, in Bengali, were, “Isharay shis diye amake dekona (Do not invite me by making gestures and whistling sounds. Do not look at me with eyes full of longing).” The movie sensation of 70s, Babita, was lip-syncing, but who was the green-eyed, tall and handsome hero? I have never seen him before. An unfamiliar face in Bengali movies, and I was sure that he was neither from West Bengal nor from Mumbai. I posted the YouTube clip on Facebook to know who the hero was. I was right; he was not a Bengali actor. His name was Waheed Kader, an Afghan actor who played as an American immigrant in “Bondini”. Waheed used to speak flawless Bengali and became a model and star in Bangladesh. Waheed's heroine Bobita stated that Mr. Kader was one of the best lead actors paired in a movie with her. Later, Waheed moved to the United States, and died in 2004. Very short life indeed.
One of my Facebook friends, Ajmotullah, did a splendid job. He discovered Waheed Kader's son, Matthew Kline Kader, and his Twitter account. I contacted Matthew and wanted to know about his father. Another movie story started to unfold. It was soul-stirring and tragic as well.
Waheed Kader was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. His father was an ambassador in different countries of Asia and Europe so as a child and young man, Mr. Kader traveled a lot with his father and family. Waheed was fluent in Bengali, Hindi, German, French, Persian and English. When his father came to Bangladesh as an ambassador, he was a handsome young man. Waheed began modeling in Bangladesh. His smart look attracted a casting director of Bengali movies and he requested Waheed for an audition for an upcoming role in “Bondini”. The casting director described Waheed's appearance as a western American. After his audition the casting director was amazed at Waheed's performance and immediately offered him the role. “Bondini” was released in 1976. It was a grand success.
In 1980, Waheed immigrated to the US. He had moved to a new country by himself, a country which he was not yet familiar with. He proceeded to get a job in the security business field. Within a month of starting his new life and career, he received a phone call from the director of “Bondini”. He was told that an audition was waiting for him for one of the biggest drama series on the network in the United States, named “General Hospital”. Waheed auditioned for the part and was offered a role on the show but at that time Waheed had just gotten married and his wife was pregnant. So, he decided to not accept the role and continued the security business.
(To Be Continued)
By Pinaki Bhattacharya