Goodbye to the legend we loved to hate
ATM Shamsuzzaman was once walking down a road in the village. A lady saw him and ran away thinking the famous villain was a bad person in real life and that he might harm her. The veteran actor recalled this story with a hearty laughter during his last interview with The Business Standard.
From Bejar Ali, a small character of war criminal in the film 'Ora Egaro Jon' to characters like Mokbul in 'Hajar Bachhor Dhore' and Gazi Ebadat Molla in 'Molla Barir Bou', ATM Shamsuzzaman had travelled a long way in his 50 years of acting career, to give us some of most hated characters, and even more loved performances.
Abu Taher Mohammad Shamsuzzaman not only earned love through amazing performances throughout his career, but also gained hatred of people for his skillful and realistic representation of negative roles, and that is what proves his worth as a great actor.
"Fans were not much excited seeing me and I heard some mean comments from people at the beginning of my career. But that actually inspired me as an actor because those people really believed my characters," Shamsuzzaman said in one of his interviews.
Be it the small screen or big screen, be it a TV serial or a full-length Bangla film, ATM Shamsuzzaman, one of the most versatile actors of the country, stands supreme in all areas of performing art. Through his all-round skills in acting, he has established a unique position for himself as an actor whose place can never be filled by others.
A career spanning nearly six decades, he gave memorable performances in movies like 'Ora Egaro Jon' (1972), 'Lathial' (1975), 'Golapi Ekhon Train E' (1978), 'Surja Dighal Bari' (1979), 'Dayee Ke?' (1987), 'Vondo', 'Madam Fuli' (1999), 'Churiwala' (2001), 'Shoshurbari Zindabad' (2002), 'Shasti' (2004), 'Hajar Bochor Dhore' (2005), 'Molla Barir Bou' (2005), 'Mon Bosena Porar Table E' (2009), 'Guerrilla' (2011), 'Chorabali' (2012), 'Lal Tip' (2012), 'Ratrir Jatri' (2019) and 'Alpha' (2019).
ATM Shamsuzzaman has won the hearts of millions for his candid presence in diverse roles and became an emblem of spontaneous acting. He bagged national recognition several times. He had won the National Film Awards five times for his roles in 'Dayee Ke?', 'Madam Fuli', 'Churiwala', 'Mon Bosena Porar Table E' and 'Chorabali'. He also received Ekushey Padak in 2015 for his outstanding contributions to film.
He began his career as an actor by playing the character of a petty villain named Ramzan in the play 'Shangshaptak', which was aired in 1960.
Though in 1972, he appeared in a small part as a war criminal in the film 'Ora Egaro Jon', in which he was the dialogue writer as well, he began his acting career by playing the antagonist in Amzad Hossain's film 'Noyonmoni' in 1976 for which he was praised by the fans as well as the critics.
From then on, he did not have to look back. He played both comical and negative characters. Shamsuzzaman earned nationwide popularity for his portrayal as a villain. He has played different roles in over 400 films till date.
Born on September 10, 1941, in Noakhali, British India to Nooruzzaman and Noorunnesa, Shamsuzzaman's introduction to writing began when he was just a school boy. In his lifetime, he had written more than a hundred scripts. 'Jalchobi' was his first script, which was directed by Narayan Ghosh Mita and 'Molla Barir Bou' was his last script, which was directed by Salauddin Lavlu.
Shamsuzzaman used to watch films with his mother, though his father was against it. According to him, he could gather enough courage to step into the realm of acting just because of his mother Noorunnesa.
His father wanted him to be a lawyer. But ATM Shamsuzzaman had harboured the dream of becoming an actor since childhood. Though, 'Gurey Bali', which translates to wastage, was his first stage drama where he acted in a role of a passenger of a launch, everything that came after this was not wasted.
In 1961 he stepped into the world of film by joining as an assistant director in a film titled 'Bishkonya', directed by Udayan Chowdhury. He worked for some other noted filmmakers, including Khan Ataur Rahman, Kazi Zahir and Subhash Dutta, as assistant director.
ATM Shamsuzzaman got married to Runy Begum on March 15, 1968. The couple had three sons and three daughters. In March 2012, one of his sons, ATM Kholikuzzaman Kushol, killed another son ATM Kamaluzzaman Kabir. Shamsuzzaman testified against his son in court and in 2014, Kushol got life sentence in prison.
ATM Shamsuzzaman passed away in his home in Sutrapur, Saturday, at the age of 80. The long-lasting illness could not drain the humour out of ATM Shamsuzzaman till the end. "Wellbeing does not depend on the body. It depends on the mind. It is the joy of the mind that keeps the body composed," said the veteran actor.
"Acting gives me positive energy. I want to work till my last breath. If my physical condition permits I want to stand in front of the camera again" the actor said with a certain resolve during his last interview with The Business Standard in March of 2020.