ATM Shamsuzzaman is an extraordinary actor. He was born in Dowlatpur, Noakhali on 10 September 1941.But he grew up in Dhaka. Adi Dhaka which means old Dhaka. At that time he was renting a house next to Armanitola field in Babubazar. Then in 1958 his father bought a house in Sutrapur.
His full name is Abu Taher Mohammad Shamsuzzaman. He is a Bangladeshi film and television actor, director and screen-playwright. He was awarded Ekushey Padak in 2015 by the Government of Bangladesh.He won Bangladesh National Film Awards five times for his roles in Dayee Ke? (1987), Madam Fuli (1999), Churiwala (2001), Mon Bosena Porar Table E (2009) and Chorabali (2012).
Although their home is in Sutrapur, the playground is Armanitola ground. There are many memories of dusty childhood and adolescence around the field. He wanted to be a lot in one life. This is probably the turning point of life. Otherwise how did he become an actor from a director. But his acting came from the source of management.
Then listen to that history. In 1971, He started working as an assistant director in Udayan Chowdhury’s ‘Manusher Bhagwan’ and ‘Bisakanya’. Since then he has worked as an assistant with various directors. In 1975, He came in front of the camera for the first time in the role of a magazine seller in Narayan Ghosh Mita’s ‘Ettuku Asha’. In that film, Altaf Hossain played a newspaper seller. Speaking of acting with him as an assistant, he was absent that day for some reason. ATM was present on that set at the time. Producer Mita did not see Upayantar and asked him to play the role of Altaf’s assistant. At first he did not agree, but later he stood in front of the camera at his request. Seeing his expression, he said, you will one day be a great actor. ATM don’t know if he could be a good actor.
This couple had five sons and three daughters. ATM Shamsuzzaman was the eldest of them.He spent his early childhood at their home in Debendranath Das Lane.ATM Shamsuzzaman’s schooling began at Dhaka’s once famous Pogose School. Another powerful actor of Bangladesh film industry Prabir Mitra and famous cartoonist Rafiqun Nabi were ATM Shamsuzzaman’s friends at school.
He used to watch films with his mother, though his father was against it. Shamsuzzaman said just because of his mother he could gather enough courage to step into the realm of acting.He always wanted to work in the film industry. In fact, acting was his passion from the very beginning.An incident he mentioned provides an indication what he had to go through initially to pursue his passion.
His father wanted him to be a lawyer. But ATM Shamsuzzaman was a very stubborn kid. He had harboured the dream of becoming an actor since his childhood.He moved to Rajshahi with his uncle who was in the army. There he got admission in Lokonath High School.Dr Muhammad Shahidullah was his relative. Shamsuzzaman used to call him ‘nana’, or grandfather. He had spent a lot of time with him in Rajshahi.
However, he wrote a short story titled ‘Obohela’, after being inspired by the tale of poet Ferdousi for his school magazine and showed it to Dr Muhammad Shahidullah for final revision.That was the beginning of his writing career. Apart from spending time in writing, ATM Shamsuzzaman used go to books – he was an avid reader. He loved reading books of different authors but Rabindranath Tagore was and still is his favourite among all writers.
Later, when he was in class X, his uncle had to move to Mymensingh. ATM Shamsuzzaman completed his schooling from Mymensingh City Collegiate School. After passing the matriculation examination, he came back to Dhaka and started living with his family again. Later he got admitted to Jagannath College.
Once one of his friends informed him that Indian filmmaker Udayan Chowdhury needs an assistant for his film Bishkonnya. ATM Shamsuzzaman met him in his office. He was asked to write his name on a paper and Udayan appointed him as his assistant. This is how in 1961 he stepped into the world of film.
‘Udayan Chowdhury is my guru,’ he emphatically pointed out.
Anwar Hossian played hero in that film for the first time. Though the film was never released, it paved the way for ATM Shamsuzzaman to begin a career in the film industry.
He worked for some other noted filmmakers, including Khan Ataur Rahman, Kazi Zahir and Subhash Dutta, as assistant director
ATM Shamsuzzaman got married on March 15, 1968 to Runy Begum. The couple had three sons and three daughters.
ATM Shamsuzzaman has written over one hundred scripts as well. He made his debut as a screenplay writer with the film Jalchhabi. H Akbar was the director of the film. Actor Farooque was introduced to the industry through Jalchhabi where actress Kabori Sarwar played the female lead.
Shamsuzzaman used to write stories and poems for newspaper as well. He considers writer Ranesh Dasgupta as his mentor in the literary arena. Ranesh Dasgupta used to go through his write-ups every time he needed a second pair of eyes to ensure quality.
Besides, ATM Shamsuzzaman expresses his gratitude to educationist Ajit Kumar Guha, novelist Alauddin Al Azad, Dr Hasan Hafizur Rahman and others for grooming him during his college days.
ATM Shamsuzzaman’s acting career saw its start when he acted in a film as a substitute actor. He also began to work as a prompter in films.
As an actor his first venture was a drama serial named Songsoptok directed by Abdullah al Mamun, which aired on Bangladesh Television. There ATM Shamsuzzaman played the role of a petty villain named Ramzan. The serial was a super hit of that time and he became popular among the audience.
In 1972, he appeared as a war criminal in the film Ora Egaro Jon. He started playing both comical and negative characters. He acted in Amzad Hossain’s film Noyonmoni and Golapi Ekhon Trene lending his weight to the characters that were central to the story but were villains. Later Shamsuzzaman earned nationwide popularity for his portrayal as a villain in Dilip Biswas’ film Ashami. From then on, he did not have to look back.
He has played different roles in over 400 films till date.
He has Surja Dighal Bari, Dayee Ke, Shasti, Hajar Bochor Dhore, Molla Barir Bou, Chander Moto Bou, Mon Boshena Porar Tebile and others popular films are under his belt.
However, as an artiste ATM Shamsuzzaman still craves for more challenging characters.
Which character is his most favourite? His reply bears the signs of discontentment.
‘I don’t think I got my desired role yet. But I will mention a few films which I like the most.’
Surja Dighal Bari, Chapa Dangar Bou and Biroho Betha are the films which the veteran actor feels have had an original dimension to them.
But how does he feel about the negative characters he has been playing?
‘I just followed the director’s command. I know I am popular enough as a villain, but I did not like most of the characters. I earned money by those films but it did not give me satisfaction.’
‘People used to throw at me negative comments after seeing me in real life. I remember once I was walking down a road in the village a lady saw me and she just ran away thinking I was a bad person in real life,’ ATM Shamsuzzaman remembered with a hearty laughter.
Apart from the silver screen, the seasoned actor has been busy with TV dramas as well. He had track record of working in famous TV serials like Ranger Manush, Noashal, Vober Hat, Greehogalpa and others.
Over the last five decades, ATM Shamsuzzaman has directed one film titled ‘Ebadat’. He had written the story and acted in the film as well. Eminent actors like Riaz, Shabnur, Prabir Mitra, Dolly Johur, Zamilur Rahman Shakha and others played different roles in Ebadat.
He has plans to direct more films.
‘If the almighty allows me, I’ll direct another film. The film will depict the society and its odds and errors,’ said ATM Shamsuzzaman shedding light on his future plans.ATM Shamsuzzaman is about to be 80 years old soon. Already he has been through six major operations. He faces difficulties moving even from one room to another. He is now focused on his recovery.‘It’s a miracle that I am still alive. I am grateful to Allah for this,’ said the veteran actor.He wishes to be back in acting soon.
In 1986, filmmaker Amjad Hossain’s ‘Nayonmoni’ changed the course of his life. ATM Shamsuzzaman was not at all ready to act in this movie as it was a turning point in his life. One day Amjad Hossain called him. Then ATM Shamsuzzaman thought maybe I should work as an assistant director in his film. But when he asked him to play a character, He ran away saying ‘no’ out of fear. Later, he grabbed him and gave him a chance to play the role of ‘Moral’ in the film. ATM Shamsuzzaman just did as Amjad Bhai said in front of the camera. So far he had acted in more than three hundred films and several hundred TV dramas.
People want to be many things in one life. ATM Shamsuzzaman Wanted to be a writer. But his father wanted to make him a lawyer. After the performance started, his father kicked him out of the house. At that time he was living in the house of Jaffran Bhai in the next lane. Jaffrans mother loved him very much. Jaffran’s mother later died before ATM Shamsuzzaman receiving a national award for acting.
At present, ATM Shamsuzzaman is living with one of his daughters, Koyel Ahmed, who is resident at Basundhara residential area in Dhaka.
He spends most of his time praying and watching TV.He loves watching good quality films. Alongside Bengali language films, he enjoys international films as well.He admires Indian actor Soumitra Chatterjee for his acting; in Hollywood he sees Gregory Peck towering over the rest. Speaking about his favourite actors, he also mentioned the name of Anthony Quinn, the American actor known for his ability to tackle quirky roles.
While praising and expressing his fondness about the Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, ATM Shamsuzzaman couldn’t hide his enthusiasm as he broke into an innocent laughter.At this stage of life, the veteran actor considers himself a ‘happy person’. ‘I am grateful to the people of Bangladesh. Though I have played numerous negative characters, people loved me from the core of their hearts,’ said ATM Shamsuzzaman in an emotion-chocked voice.
He thinks the love he got from his fans is the best asset he could earn in his lifetime.‘I have become old now. I play characters of grandfathers and uncles. I enjoy this as well. Doesn’t matter the character is a comedian, a villain or a grandfather, I am always respectful to my role. Acting gives me positive energy. I want to work till my last breath,’ the actor said with a certain resolve.
In the film, ATM Shamsuzzaman has played the role of a village matabbar, sometimes a variety of naughty people or comedy genres other than the usual ones. Whenever he appeared with that character, the audience responded quite well. ATM Shamsuzzaman have directed, acted, written stories, screenplays and stories for films. Actor ATM Shamsuzzaman has been loved by the audience more than anything else – this is more or less what.