Titas Zia, the actor who played the character of 'Rudro' in Rezwan Shahriar Sumit directorial debut 'Nonajoler Kabbo', is an assistant professor at the Department of Theatre and performance studies at University of Dhaka, who graduated from the same department with a first class first in both his bachelors and masters.
At the same time, Titas is also a PhD researcher at The Russian University of Theatre.
He is also an actor who received the National Award for his debut film 'Mrittika Maya' in 2013.
During a phone conversation with The Business Standard, Titas shared his surreal journey of becoming a theatre teacher to being a theatre student and a national award-winning actor.
"When I was in class 5, my school introduced 30 minutes of extracurricular activities. I was never extraordinary in sports or other subjects but within those 30 minutes I loved reciting poetry, mimicking dialogues and participating in school plays. I was getting a lot of attention from my classmates and teachers and I quickly figured out my potential," the actor said.
He continued, "My teacher asked me about my aim in life when I was studying in class six. I told her I wanted to be a teacher but in my heart I had the urge to become an actor. I couldn't say that out loud because I thought how can a boy from a small town in Jhenaidah ever become an actor."
Today, Titas is both an actor and a teacher, thanks to his talent and perseverance. His artistic presence on screen, with his signature locks of untangled hair and groomed beard, received warm responses from the audience.
Stepping into the world of theatricals
Titas's father was overwhelmed when he heard that his son was getting admitted at the University of Dhaka in 2000. But his reaction quickly changed when he learned that Titas will be studying theatre, that too at a time when there were only a few TV channels in Bangladesh
Titas even borrowed money from his friends to enrol at the university on time.
However, Titas's mother always believed in his potential and encouraged him to try something unusual.
"My father also worked in the theatres at Jhenaidah but he never imagined studying theatre as a subject would be fruitful. But his reaction changed after my first year results were published," Titas recalled.
As a theatre student, Titas used to participate in stage shows regularly and eventually met director Gazi Rakayet.
Even before appearing in 'Mrittika Maya', Titas worked in a 13-episode drama by Gazi Rakayet in 2005.
However, instead of focusing on finding new works, Titas devoted himself to his studies and eventually became a faculty member at University of Dhaka.
He said, "I felt that I would be able to go far if I focus on my studies, which is why I made it my top priority."
After appearing in a Grameenphone ad in 2012, Titas casually contacted Gazi Rakayet, who then offered him the lead role in the government-granted project 'Mrittika Maya'.
Being a teacher and an actor
"When I was asked to play the lead role in a movie for the first time, I told Rakayet bhai that I'm a teacher and I must play a meaningful character. After reading the script of 'Mrittika Maya', I liked the character of 'Boishakh'," Titas said.
But as he was about to get signed for his first film, Titas received a scholarship from Russia to pursue PhD. However, he took it as a challenge to complete the shoot for 'Mrittika Maya' before heading to Russia to his PhD.
When we asked Titas why it took him so long to sign up for his second film, he responded, "I was waiting for the right role and right opportunity."
He added, "My character 'Rudro' in Rezwan Shahriar Sumit's 'Nona Joler Kabbo' is progressive. Generally, artists have the most progressive thoughts. It's their responsibility to come forward to change society. 'Rudro' has certain flaws but when someone needs him, he emerges as a strong shield."
The entire team of 'Nonajoler Kabbo' garnered huge appreciation from international critics and audiences. The film premiered in Bangladesh on 26 November.
Though Titas is currently in Russia and busy with his PhD research, the actor said he will sign up for movies if he finds the character he loves.
"You cannot deliver your best if you don't love the character," Titas concluded.