The long-lasting illness could not drain the humour out of ATM Shamsuzzaman. "The 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.
A few days ago, he returned home after almost a year of treatment. The Business Standard had a chance to talk with this legend of the country's entertainment industry at his Sutrapur house in the capital.
He had just returned from the physiotherapist. The journey from Sutrapur to Mohammadpur and then Sutrapur again could not make him tired. He looked energetic as ever. "My mind is in peace. That's why I am feeling good," he said with a satisfactory tone.
Sharing the memory about his feeling during the time of his illness, he said, "I was always accompanied by friends in the hospital. Those friends are books. I always wanted to read something during that time."
The racks full of books in his drawing-room gave a testimony of his claim.
ATM Shamsuzzaman thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her cordial help concerning his treatment. "She helped me to get a new life," he said.
The Business Standard wanted to know the story of the beginning of his film career. And he started from his childhood days.
He said he used to read a lot from his early days and grew a habit of writing. He was introduced with some people from the cultural field in connection with his writing.
In 1961, he started as an assistant director in a film titled "Bishkonya", directed by Udayan Chowdhury. He wrote several scripts during that time. "Jalchobi" was his first script which was directed by Narayan Ghosh Mita. So far, he has written more than a hundred scripts. "Molla Barir Bou" was his last script which was directed by Salauddin Lavlu.
He began his acting career as a comedian. He played the role of the villain in Amzad Hossain's film "Noyonmoni" in 1976 for which he was praised by the fans and the critics.
"I wanted to be an assistant director of Amzad vai. But he asked me to play the role of the villain in his film Noyonmoni. I was surprised by his decision. I said nobody knows me. The film will be a flop if I play the villain. But he rebuked me saying it is not your concern if the film flops," said ATM Shamsuzzaman.
"When the film was released I confined myself at my home because I knew nobody will watch the film. People will laugh at me. I got out of my home after three days and found people praising me. They said my acting was very good. The film was a super hit," he added.
Old memories captured his soul when he was describing the early days of his career. The Business Standard wanted to know if he had any love affair with any heroine of that period.
A shyness blushed in his face with a soft smile. "I married before entering the film industry. As a result, there was no chance for any romantic affair. But I liked several heroines: Suchorita, Bobita, Shabana. I have a good relationship with them all. Shabana used to seek updates of me when I was ill. One day she even came to meet me with food cooked by herself. I was delighted."
"I used to take part in the negative roles that's why women did not like me that much," he said with a laughter.
The Bangladeshi film industry is passing bad times in recent years. ATM Shamsuzzaman expressed his insight into the crisis.
"Those who are leading the film industry right now know better than me. They will understand easily what is to be done to get back the golden days of the country's film industry. I have only one thing to say- everyone must be united. Only good films can bring the good days of the industry."
He disclosed a hidden talent of him at the end of the conversation. "I write poetry. It has been my habit from childhood."
But he never had any interest to publish his poetry in a book. "Who will read my poems? I cannot write like Joy Goswami. When I will be able to write like him, I will publish a book. Not before that."
He expressed his desire to stand in front of the camera again. "I am tired of acting almost the same characters over and over again. If I get a different or interesting character and if my physical condition permits I want to stand in front of the camera again."