Arefsyed the actor, model, entrepreneur who has been one of the most talked personality of Bangladeshi Film Industry for his excellent appearance in a lead role in movie Anil BagchirEkdin, written by Humayun Ahmed and Directed by Morshedul Islam. But his eraly life was totally different from his present identiy. He was Born and brought up in Bangladesh and then move to the New York city, completed his BS degree course from Columbia University in the City of New York in Engineering and Economics. Worked in Investment Banking and Marketing in NYC. But he suddenly changed his profession as he found that it is nothing but acting that makes him feel the breathe. So, then he returned to Bangladesh to pursue a career in film and made his acting debut in 2015 with a leading role in ‘Anil BagchirEkdin’, which is set in the backdrop of Bangladesh’s 1971 Independence War. For the very first film he get nominated for Meril-ProthomAloPuroskar (Awards) 2015 for best actor-critics choice and finally snatched the award for his brilliant performance. Recently The Pages had a candid interview with him.
The Pages: What does acting mean to you?
Aref Syed: To simply put… I would say…acting means living in the moment and exploring others’ lives as honestly as you can.
The Pages: So what was it that inspired you to become an actor?
Aref Syed: Actually I believe that I was very fortunate to get selected take on the opportunity to train formally in acting from Stella Adler Studio of Acting. There I experienced all the hard work that goes behind a great performance. Whether it’s physical speech, voice and tone development or expression or the synchronization everything attracted me and I found that very interesting and fun to do. Another thing I really liked about acting that every actor has to do a lot of research on the character he / she is playing. But when the actor is on the stage to perform he has to live in that moment. So, that whole approach is what I liked about acting much. And that made me decided that I want to peruse that particular passion of mine.
The Pages: Were your friends and family supportive about you wanting to become an actor?
Aref Syed: It was difficult at the beginning. Actually, we have to grow up thinking that we have to get a job first.obviously to earn own livelihood. We mainly wish to become like engineer..doctor.. pilot..Yeah.My friends supported me a lot. Some of my closest friends were extremely supportive. Especially I have a very close friend of mine. Her name is Rumi. She has been very supportive when I was in US. My other close friends also supported me too. Family in the beginning was not as much supportive as now and was worried actually. I mean after completing studies and having such a good job …I am leaving it for my passion… was kind of a new beginning of a new track. So..yes.. they were a bit worried but they did not discourage me from what I wanted to do.
The Pages: Congratulations on your Critics’ Award win. It was your first film’s first nominations in “MerilProthomAloPuroshkar”. What was the feeling when your name was called?
Aref Syed: Umm… actually.. I was just speechless.I am so fortunate and thankful to my fans and the Jury board for the award.To me actually the prize was to be able in Humayun Ahmed’s film and to be selected and directed by noted filmmaker Morshedul Islam and produced by one of the top most production. To be abler to get all those opportunities for a first time actor in a film is huge and I can’t be thankful enough. And when its about being a winner. When finally my name was called I was just astounded. In the beginning part of half of mind was telling me that I hope I don’t win because then I have to go up on stage and have to say anything. And the other part was really hoping to win it. So, all together it was like a floating experience. When finally the name was announced I felt like everything has frozen. A big thank to Morshedul sir for giving me this huge opportunity and also the freedom to really portray this character to the best of my ability.
The Pages:Tell us something about ‘Anil BagchirEkdin’. How was the experience?
ArefSyed:An unique story of our 1971 great liberation war. It’sso simple but yet so poignant that reflects a very humane story to our great 1971 Liberation War. As you know, it is based on a novel of the same title by writer Humayun Ahmed, it depicts the struggles of common people, especially the Hindus, during the war days.
The Pages:Do you have a favorite film genre?
Aref Syed: I definitely and extremely open to all and different kind of genres and interested to film of different stories and characters. As an actor I value the most is diversity and versatility. I think it’s a death for an actor if he/ she prisons own self in a particular box/ type/ character. I hope I really have the courage to push myself outside any particular genre. Sometimes people asked me whether I am interested in serious films or am I interested to mainstream cinema of our country. Actually to me it’s always good cinema vs bad cinema. What I feel that the film should be understood from heart. For example, if any art cinema is presented in too abstract way and the audience don’t understand it, then I don’t think this is useful either and the other hand if it’s about any commercial film and people did not like what they saw then that is not really meaningful. So the film may belong to any genre with different aspect and made me feel challenging I would like to do that.
The Pages: As you said, it’s always about good film vs bad film. Can we ask that according to you what is the definition of good film?
Aref Syed: To me good films are those that touches the heart of people. The very basic is that it should touches the human level. It could be a fun film or a tragic film or anything , when at the end of the day people found that it’s a good story and the characters are living then that’s a good film obviously. The from technical level a good film is the one when the audience is glued to what’s going on in the screen. As long as the
Audience don’t come out from the story while watching the movie is a good film also.
The Pages: Is there any particular actor that you look up to and admire and have dreams to work with?
Aref Syed: There are so many brilliant actors in our country and outside of the country also that mentioning one name is quite impossible. Its difficult to name actually and I would love to work with those who always push boundaries and try something versatile as well as with whom I will be able to push myself , I am hoping to work with them. I hope some of these come out to be true very soon with the grace of almighty. For example Tom Hanks, he is someone I have grown up watching his acting.
Still I do admire the works of Javier Bardem, Kate Winslet, Christian Bale, Paul Giamatti, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and the list goes on actually. In our country there are legends likeRazzak Sir thenAbul Hayat sir, whom I deeply admire. Without working with them, I feel like my acting career will be incomplete. An d yes among female there are Joya Ahsan apu. She is also doing great. So, yes that’s all and I am very eager to work with them.
The Pages: What do you like MOST and LEAST about your life as an actor?
Aref Syed: The love of the audience and yes fame is sometimes also interesting. But still it’s the love of the fan basically which is most adorable to me. Here I will share a experience of mine that on the screening of ‘Anil BagchirEkdin’, there was an audience who was much older like a grand ma. She also came to see the screening and while leaving the screening, we all came out to see the audience’s response. The whole team were present that day. So, she came to me and literally held my hands for almost 10 minutes and were crying and said that “I am praying for you for making the character of Anil Bagchi so enliven and heart touching. So that was a great moment for me obviously and I would say that those responses and experience are really very important to me and made me love acting more. And if you ask me about what is the least fact about being an actor, then I would say, there is nothing least about acting but yes there are some experiences that are very different some times. For example the same day when the old women praised me I was feeling that moment and one part of mine was totally very attached with her praise and the same time there was gathering, audience and fans were screaming for us and journalists and photographers all were there and the moment was really a mixture of totally different expression and emotion. I had another experience on the day of screening when Dr. Zafar Iqbal sir Dr. Yasmeen Haquemam pulled me from the crowd right after our screening saying “Anil Bagchirshathey to chobitulteihobe”. That was such a precious experience and I loved everything about those and those particular experiences really stand out in my mind.
The Pages: Tell us something about your future plans.
Aref Syed: I recently worked in a TVC for Bloop Ice cream which was agreat experience. And about film there are 3 projects I am talking about and hoping to deliver some good news regarding my next project in a next few months. So I would seek the prayers from all of my fans and movie Lovers.