"I had a scene with Humayun Faridi in the drama where he enters my room - drooling at me. He sits beside me and I move away from him. He slowly inched closer towards me with lust in his eyes and I kept moving away from him. He pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped at his face. His eyes were full of fear, terror and lust," legendary actor Ferdousi Mazumder reminisced about the shooting days of Songsoptok - the timeless classic novel turned drama by Shahidullah Kaiser that aired on BTV in 1971, but production was halted midway due to Liberation War.
For Ferdousi, the scene was an iconic one. In the drama, Humayun Faridi played the role of Ramjan. The character gained popularity due to the phrase "Kan kata Ramjan" (one eared Ramjan). Ferdousi's character was called Hurmati bua.
Over a phone conversation with The Business Standard, the actor took a stroll down memory lane and rejoiced in the memories of the decades-old shooting days.
"We lived in Dilu road of Moghbazar back then. We used to go to Shantinagar for daily groceries. All the shopkeepers there addressed me as Hurmati bua. I used to enjoy that," Ferdousi recalled.
It was the 1980's when Shahidullah Kaiser's famous novel Songsoptok was adapted as a television play with Abdullah Al Mamun and Al Mansur as directors.
Mahfuza Ferdous, producer of BTV, said they have decided to re-telecast a number of old yet popular dramas to keep people entertained during Covid-19 shutdown, and Songsoptok is one of the dramas.
Ferdousi shared an incident with the correspondent where Faridi lost his temper on a security guard of the national television office when he said, "There goes kan kata Ramjan." The incident took place when Ferdousi and Faridi, along with Suborna Mustafa, went to Bangladesh Betar for voice recording of a different play.
"I intervened and told Faridi that it was an achievement for an actor to be known by their character's name. Faridi was an amazing actor and also like a child" Ferdousi said.
Veteran actor Tariq Anam Khan played the role of a brother in the play. He appears on screen after seven or eight episodes. He told the correspondent that they used BTV studio for shooting and sometimes shot outdoors if necessary.
The directors shot the last scene in a village near Tongi and used an air force helicopter. It was followed by a mild accident as the helicopter blew away homes of a few poor families. Later on BTV compensated them for their loss.
During these days, Tariq and Faridi used to spend a lot of time together. But they still had not shared the screen in the play. When they informed the director of the irony, he created a scene where they would share the screen.
Actor Mamunur Rashid shared some interesting incidents from the shooting days of Songsoptok. "The first telecast of the play started in 1970 before Bangladesh gained independence. BTV used to be Pakistan television back then. The novelist Shahidullah Kaiser was also alive," he said.
Mamunur Rashid used to visit Shahidullah with the script. In his version, Rosy Samad played the part of Hurmati bua and ATM Shamsuzzaman played the role of Kan kata Ramjan. Though he wrote the script, Rashid himself did not act in the play.
By the time the Liberation War started, Songsoptok went off air. Rashid was cast in the drama when it was re-filmed after the war.
"We had a wonderful time back then while acting. Rehearsal was very important. We used to rehearse first and then stand in front of the camera" Rashid reminisced.
Learning that the drama will be aired again, Rashid was very happy. However, he is worried that the footage may not be up to the mark.
Kaiser's daughter - Shomi Kaiser expressed thanks to BTV for the initiative. She recollected that she was young during the making of the play. "I remember Abdullah Al Mamun coming to our house for the script. He used to discuss the script with my mother - Panna Kaiser, over a cup of tea," Shomi said. She used to sit beside them listening to their discussion.
"Mamun uncle suggested that I join acting. I was not ready yet. But I joined Dhaka theatre the following year and took up acting seriously after that" said Shomi.
She added that there were other directors who wanted to work on Songsoptok after Abdullah Al Mamun and Al Mansur. They did not permit them. But Shomi Kaiser has a plan to make a movie based on the novel.
"Songsoptok is a timeless novel. I hope we will see it on the silver screen" she said.
Mahfuza Ferdous, the producer of BTV, informed The Business Standard that the drama will be aired again on BTV from next week.