Life has not been as optimistic for veteran actor Syed Golam Sarwar as the fiction he depicted.
Better known as Haque Chacha or Haque Bhai in theatre circles, he has acted in more than a hundred television dramas, telefilms and commercials.
A television commercial of Duranto bicycle titled "Letterbox", in which he acted a postman, melted the hearts of millions of viewers.
Watch Duranto bicycle titled "Letterbox" commercial here
The commercial tells the story of an elderly postman named Rahim Chacha. One day he finds a letter addressed him in a letterbox. The letter expresses gratitude to the postman for his lifelong service to the people. He also gets a bicycle as a gift. The moment captures the essence of humanity.
But in the time of the Covid-19 lockdown, when the actor is jobless and living in poverty, no words of gratitude have reached him. Not even a little help with some money or essential food items.
Syed Golam Sarwar was contracted to work in several dramas to be released during Eid-ul-Fitr. The lockdown has postponed all the shootings.
Currently, the 73-year old actor is living in the Bank Colony area of Savar with his seven-member family. His younger son also lives with the family with his wife and three children. He used to work in a footwear factory until he was laid-off.
The Covid-19 pandemic has put the family in a dire condition. So much so that the actor cannot afford to buy medicines for his ailing wife.
As a television actor he is respected by his neighbours, and, as a result, he has not been able to discard his middle-class pride to beg for help from others.
"Nobody knows the economic condition of my family. I could not tell anybody about it. Recently, I phoned the leaders of the Artist Guild, an organisation of actors. They said they are trying to obtain government grants for artists. They said they will contact me if they can get any help," said Golam Sarwar.
He started his career three decades ago after being inspired by a friend. He also worked as a fashion designer, but left that profession to focus on acting.
Since he never became a superstar, he never earned a huge sum of money from acting. But, so far his earnings have been enough to run his small family.
His elder son lives in Rajshahi where he has a steel furniture business. But the business has not been doing well, and Golam Sarwar often had to send him money.
His younger son, Syed Golam Mostar Saad, said his father had fever and cough several days ago. Though he had shown symptoms of coronavirus, they did not have it tested.
He said his father did not want to go to the hospital because of their economic condition. The mismanagement of our hospitals is also a reason. He opted to stay at home in isolation for several days and recovered.
Syed Golam Mostar Saad said the owner of the house where they live does not charge them rent on condition that they look after the building. But, he said, it has been hard to meet other expenses amid the pandemic, especially to buy baby food for his 10-month old child and medicine for his mother.
The prominent television dramas that Golam Sarwar acted in are Mostofa Sarwar Farooki's 420, Carom; Masud Sezan's Choliteche Circus etc.
He also played different roles in a crime-based programme titled Crime Patrol. He acted in numerous television commercials too.
Golam Sarwar played an important role in a government-funded film named Kanta, directed by Tokon Thakoor based on a short story by eminent writer Shahidul Zahir.
Tokon Thakoor said, "Syed Golam Rahman called me around a week ago when he was sick with a fever. I learnt about his economic misfortune that day."
"He did not want any help from me, but I helped him anyway with a small amount on my own. He is a good actor. He needs economic help to survive," said Tokon.
"Many artists are living in dire condition in the country. Government and personal initiatives must be taken for them," he added.