Humayun Faridi departs this life

Maswood Alam Khan
He had been born to act. He was not classically handsome. But, his resilient postures and his strong personality, combined with his mischievous looks, his roguish smile and his peculiarly husky voice, made him a great hero and also a stellar villain. He was always lit by an inner fire. He played hero’s roles quite heroically; but he gained more popularity for his villainous roles. He was vigorous and vociferous. Like any great artist, he could both defy reality and comply with frailty. On Monday, his heart, after pulsating for about 60 years, had stopped throbbing.

Humayun Faridi, one of the greatest actors in the entertainment history of Bangladesh, has departed this life. But, his sterling acting, sometime heroic and at times villainous, will be reviewed and his voice, sometime serene and at other times iniquitous, will be echoed in the hearts of Bangladeshi audience for a long, long time. His recordings will continue to be played in cinema halls, televisions and also over YouTube.

Faridi’s job was to place before us, through a drama, what life is like. In a movie or, for that matter, in a drama we rediscover ourselves by connecting our inner selves with the characters that match. A fiction, a drama or a movie serves as a lens to focus what we know of our life and bring its realities into sharper and clearer understanding for us and also for our progenies.

His death is certain to plunge his colleagues, friends, fans, disciples and rivals into the introspective mourning reserved for those artists who have achieved the great success in their artistic pursuits in theatres, films and televisions. Every Bangladeshi has been shocked at Faridi’s death. All politicians, social workers, professionals, activists, all artists and all the thinkers expressed their deep shocks at the death of the most celebrated actor. Even President M Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Opposition Leader Khaleda Zia, Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus and almost all the ministers have sent to Faridi’s bereaved family their condolence messages expressing their deep pains at the fading away of a shining star.

Without a villain a hero is tedium. Without a villain a story is incomplete. A villain serves as an obstacle the hero must struggle to overcome. Faridi, as a villain, kept the heroes on their toes. Yes, Faridi portrayed those villainous characters on the screen in his unique style, with mustache-twirling, eye-rolling, leering, cackling, and hand-rubbing. We the viewers would not truly know the goodness, the courage and many other virtues of the hero or the heroine without Faridi deftly portraying those contrasting vices of a villain. Faridi was like the contrasting blackboard on which the heroes’ and heroines’ noble characters were drawn in white chalks.

While nobody likes a villain and everyone wants to see him defeated, he is nonetheless essential to the integrity of a story. The audience will love their hero or heroine only if they can feel a sense of pity or empathy towards him or her. The villain’s job is to create that sense of pity or empathy in the viewers’ minds by making things difficult for the hero and the heroine, thus creating a direct contrast between good and evil that can plainly delineate the audience’s emotions—towards the angels and against the devils.

Something for sure was nudging Humayun Faridi for the last few days. “He was in a disturbed s`tate of mind”, I guessed so as by happenstance I found a note he wrote. I was scouting around the internet to know how Faridi was before his death. His mind was blank on Sunday exactly at two minutes past ten in the morning, and exactly 24 hours before he breathed his last, when he posted in his Facebook page — poignantly his last message meant for his Facebook fans — “MR. FACEBOOK, nothing on my mind….so what to write???????????????” His silent conversation with his Facebook — four dots he put to bifurcate the sentence of his succinct message and fifteen question marks he placed to conclude the message — speaks volumes. Those dots and those question marks are perhaps the ciphers a man reflexively engraves on the slate of his mind when he has to face the fact that his life is heading a crucial crossroads or that he is slated to play the last role.

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writes from Maryland, USA


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