Friday, July 11, 2008

Our hero on aviators - Interview of the silver screen film actor RIAZ from Bangladesh

Our hero on aviators

One of the exceptional film actors of the silver screen, Riaz tells Faizul Khan Tanim about the struggles he has overcome from his career and his admiration for ‘Top Gun’
photo by Momena Jalil

From aviation, to entertainment and now about to enter business, celebrated film actor Riaz is flying high and looks beyond.
Blessed with boyish good looks, a ‘mystery-shrouded’ past, inimitable manners and appropriate acting skills, Riazuddin Ahmed Siddique today stands tall in the silver screen and is one of the most revered heroes in Bengali cinema. He has also made forays in modeling, television drama as well as art house production.
Sitting for an interview with him in his house, I noticed his home décor spelled boldness and manliness in a subtle note, and with a tinge of male ego —there are vertical swords as wall hangings, the air force eagle decoration pieces, Victorian furniture, award plates and crests. Amazingly, no show-off and fancy pictures of him hugging super cool heroines or photo stills full of cheese from his films. The filmy persona of this renowned film actor is mystically absent and fades behind the wall paintings and the décor.
The confident actor came out of his make-up shell and started narrating how he became the Riaz we know of today. ‘I was born in a place called Kamlapur of Faridpur district. During that time my father worked in the Faridpur Judge Court and so we lived in government staff quarters. Most of my childhood and adolescence was spent there from where I joined the Air Force after high school and it was not until 1994 that I moved to Dhaka.’
‘And it was during my teen days that one of the most celebrated Hollywood films, starring my favorite actor Tom Cruise, Top Gun, came out and made a strong impression on me. I made up my mind that if I have to choose my career, it has to be the Air Force,’ Riaz added.
He continued saying with a smile: ‘I joined the elite flying team in 1989 and suddenly found a role model in that Top Gun character. Wearing the same leather jacket, the Ray-Ban aviators, revving the bike and flying fighter planes sky high…I think I led a very satisfying life.’
‘Crashed n burned! Was not that Lieutenant Pete Mitchell Maverick (Tom Cruise)’s greatest trait?’ laughed Riaz. ‘Call it coincidence or what, I caught up with an accident and became medically unfit to be a fighter pilot anymore.’
Then he came to Dhaka and enrolled in the flying club. Not pursuing that for long, he decided to join Dhaka Billiard Centre (DBC) as an assistant manager in an effort to find a comfortable living. That did not continue for long either when he realised, ‘if I cannot fly high, let me at least act that I have wings’.
‘That was a huge decision in my life. I realised that if I wanted adventure, if I need to take up a challenge like the Air Force, to experience something quite out-of-the-box…what would it be? What would it be? I asked myself repeatedly until I settled to become an actor,’ he paused.
‘Why acting? Because when you are an actor in the media industry, you have great power accompanied by great responsibility, and thus my journey began. My debut film was Dewan Nazrul’s Banglar Nayok, released in 1995,’ he stopped for a moment.
From 1995 to 2008, he acted in almost 150 films. ‘150 titles to my name and if I have to choose the ones I liked most, I must say that I enjoyed acting in all 150 of them. But the works that satisfied him most are Humayun Ahmed’s Dui Duari which got me the national award, Shamol Chhaya, Chashi Nazrul Islam’s Shasti, Megher Porey Megh, Hajar Bochhor Dhorey, Khelaghor, Biyer Phul, Mon-er Majhe Tumi, Hridoy-er Kotha, Pran-er Cheye Priyo and more.
‘I can express myself being an actor and express what I feel to be the truth,’ he smiles. The versatile actor is on the verge of finding him in a new platform and that may well be in business. ‘I am no longer interested to keep acting as my professional career. I will act but only in selected films.’
He continued saying: ‘It could be a good career if the scene was clean. I feel there is lot of charm in acting, with plenty of challenge and addition of colours to life.’
‘But it is just that I am basically frustrated with the quality of films and the lack of good directors at present. The standard of our regular cinemas is degrading by the day and I must say, at a frustratingly alarming rate,’ he regrets.
‘There are good directors. I have worked with both internationally renowned ones from home and some from abroad like Mahesh Manjrekar from Bombay and others, but that opportunity is rare. I wish there were more creative directors,’ added Riaz.
Talking about what he might choose as an alternate profession to acting, he said, ‘I am thinking of opting for business. The garment and food related sectors particularly attract me. I sense a challenge coming on my way once again with a question of survival as I enter into business.’
‘And I believe everyone has to struggle in life to achieve what they aspire to. I struggled to let people know that I am here. It was a struggle to become popular in the film industry. I guess struggling is a continuous process otherwise it would not bring out the credibility of oneself,’ Riaz commented.
There is an interesting crest at his place, which says: 'A great non-smoker hero'. With a grin, Riaz said that ‘I actually quit smoking on the set. I have vowed so that my fans preferably would not have to see me smoke in films. It is just one of those silent social awareness campaigns,’ he laughed.
Speaking about an idol, Riaz said all actors and all directors are his idols. Even the ones junior to him, as they have a certain admirable way of dealing with the directors, which is different from the way he did. ‘It is a self-improving and continuous learning process always,’ he added.
His upcoming films are Tomakei Khuji, Akash Chowa Bhalobasha, Ebadaat, Megh-er Kol-e Rod and more. It was almost wrap up time but I could sense that he wanted to say some more.
He concluded saying, ‘Our nation is subject to strong and continuous deception. We should have improved a lot which we have not. We have good human resources and plenty of potential to grow as a society. The question is how we utilise them and may it be in the most creative way.’


Anonymous said...

I agree wit hRiaz nwo days and before the fils viewing qaulity wasnt al lthat great an that there were too many ugly dancing and fattyness and also not seinse of cooperative dancing, especially in bangladesh, it is ric with culture and color and values and so many thigns an I think film industries need to use those qualities and resources for marketing also, like clcothing styles, jewelry and the land, because with film people follow whatthe actor is wearing, showing and other stuff and man they need to have a bengali real style dancing instead of those crazy booty shaking and stomaching movign thigns, i am sure bangladesh has a unique dancing style and film industry needto put it to use, group dancign in films would be grate indtad of running two people running around crazy dancing, and the colors need to be better qaulity too, even the 70s films were better in acting and story tellling, film industry ned to leanr fro mthe past and STOP copying other film industry, especially bollywood and hollywoood or other areas, thats not creative at all, it shwos that bangladesh film has no sense of creativity at all.OTher then that they also need to have fitt actors and actress, because some peopel can not dance or act.
PS ----------

sonalig said...

hey riaz i do htink ur a aweome actor i do not wathc bd films n=but anything withurs i luv and admire. i think ur awesome i would love to see u in bollywood films ?ud be great would u try it?

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