Tribute to prominent scholar Syed Jamil Ahmed | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:48 AM, October 19, 2019


Tribute: Syed Jamil Ahmed

A prominent scholar in the field of theatre and arts, Syed Jamil Ahmed plays an integral part for the growth of theatre in Bangladesh. He is the founder of the Department of Theatre and Music in Dhaka University. Over the years, his contribution to the academic study of theatres in Bangladesh has opened doors to the scholarly interpretation of indigenous theatrical forms.

Syed Jamil Ahmed believes theatre is a representation of life. He feels that theatre does not have any specific norm; theatre never confines him as it does not have any rules that he has to abide by. After his career in theatre began, he never had to look back. Even though he appreciates the work of many filmmakers, it has always been the experience of doing theatre that gave him the sense of contentment. With theatre, the performers have an almost direct interaction with the audiences, which he loves about theatre. He also believes that with time, the language of theatre changes substantially. The language for a play relies a lot on the setting and the time it is based on. He believes that if he did Rizwan now, the language used would be much different than the original dialect.

While studying in India’s National School of Drama, Syed Jamil Ahmed was heavily inspired by the philosophies of B. V. Karanth and Bansi Kaul. While many people were following the European theatre, B. V. Karanth and Bansi Kaul were making plays based on the Indian culture. Their philosophy of making theatre of the roots resonated within Syed Jamil Ahmed, and he made sure to make plays inspired by Bangladeshi culture after he returned to Bangladesh.

As a child, Syed Jamil Ahmed never thought that he would end up working in theatre. He never acted while in school, and his family had no ties with theatre either. Despite this, his humble abode would echo with songs by his parents. Aside from theatre, Syed Jamil Ahmed also took part in the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. He believes that for as long as humans exist, theatre will remain. It may be for a small number of people, but there will always be some who understand the value of theatre.

He is an inspiring personality in the theatre industry of Bangladesh. His dedication in the field of theatre is timeless, and the contribution he has left behind till present day solidifies him as an unshakable cornerstone of Bangladeshi theatre. It is an honour for us to present Syed Jamil Ahmed with the Standard Chartered Celebrating Life 2019 ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ in the category of theatre. We wish him the best for his future ventures.


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