If there's one artiste in Bangladesh who has defined versatility in true sense, that's Aly Zaker -- a guiding genius for generations to come.
Saturday marks the 77th birth anniversary of the eminent Ekushey Padak-winning thespian and freedom fighter.
The cultural icon was born on November 6, 1944, in Ratanpur village of Nabinagar upazila in Brahmanbaria district.
Theatre troupe Nagorik Natya Sampradaya is organising a special event at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) at 7 pm, commemorating the eventful life and works of the artiste.
Born to Muhammad Taher and Rezia Taher, Aly Zaker spent most of his childhood in places like Feni, Khulna and Kushtia, because of his father's transferable job as a government official.
After completing his Matriculation from St Gregory School, Dhaka, in 1960 and Class XII from Notre Dame College in 1962, Zaker took admission to the sociology department of the University of Dhaka, from where he obtained his Bachelor's degree.
His glorious career as one of the most versatile cultural personalities began after the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. As a freedom fighter and artiste of the Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, he took part in the war.
He then started his journey as an actor and became one of the most successful performers on stage, television and silver screen, playing a wide variety of roles.
With renowned theatre troupe Aranyak Natyadal's play 'Kabar', written by legendary playwright and intellectual martyr Munier Chowdhury, Zaker shot to limelight as a thespian in 1972.
Soon after that, he joined Nagorik Natya Sampradaya in the same year and remained with the troupe until the end of his life, eventually becoming its chairman.
Zaker directed 15 plays and acted in 31 plays for his troupe till 2019, including Kopenik-er Captain, Galileo, Nurul Diner Sarajibon, Macbeth, Achalayatan and Dewan Gazir Kissa.
His performances in the role of Nurul Din, Galileo and Dewan Gazi earned him acclaim from critics and fans. He also achieved prominence in television dramas, including Aaj Rabibar and Bohubrihee. Zaker also performed in more than 50 plays for Bangladesh Radio.
Zaker received Ekushey Padak, the country's second-highest civilian award in 1999. He also won several other awards, including the National Academy of Performing Arts Award in 1977, Sequence Award of Merit in the category of outstanding theatre personality in 1984, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Award, Bangabandhu Award, Munier Chowdhury Award, and Naren Biswas Award.
In his personal life, Zaker was married to renowned and popular cultural personality Sara from 1977 till his death.
He passed away on November 27, 2020, after a four-year battle with cancer. He had also tested positive for Covid-19, two days before his death.
Zaker is survived by his wife, son Iresh Zaker who is also a popular actor, and daughter Sria Sharbojoya.