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Humayun Ahmed: The literary legend

20 November 2015
Humayun Ahmed: The literary legend


Masum Billah :The most popular literary figure of the present time is Humayun Ahmed. He will no longer enthrall readers and viewers with his uncanny ability to weave stories around everyday lives that touched the hearts and minds of millions of the middle class and the common man. His first novel, Nondito Noroke actually made him known to the people and he produced it during his student life at Dhaka University. His second novel, Shonkhonil Karagar brought him success and made him further known. It was later made into a successful film by Nasiruddin Yusuf. Humayun Ahmed went on to become one of the most prolific writers in Bengali literature, having published around one hundred and fifty novels. Along with his more traditional novels and short stories, Ahmed is often credited with creating or maturing many literary genres in Bangladesh. The rise of Bengali science fiction can largely be attributed to Humayun Ahmed along with Dr Zafar Iqbal, his younger brother. His televised drama Bohubrihi was one of the most successful productions of Bangladesh Television which was the only one channel in Bangladesh then. He later developed Bohubrihi into a novel. The setting of his novels is the reality of middle class life but his works display a particular penchant for the mysterious and unexplained. He himself and his literature are often referred to as ‘moon-struck,’ and references to the full moon in his prose are numerous. In almost every one of Ahmed's novels, there is at least one character that possesses an extraordinary milk of kindness-a characteristic of Ahmed’s writing. Also, he is prone to create funny characters through which he reveals social realities and passes on his message. Aly Zaker, the famous actor observes that the trend, of TV plays got a new dimension through Humayun Ahmed’s plays in the 1980s. He says, “It was Humayun Ahmed, who first gave a realistic presentation of middle class society in his trendsetting TV plays. He broke the theatre style, of the TV plays by introducing his works. The spontaneous dialogues and character depiction in his plays brought out a new trend.” Humayun’s plays became so popular in the 1980s, a time when there was just one television channel, that many middle class families saved up only to buy a TV set to watch Humayun’s serial, he added. Aly Zaker, who began his acting career in TV in 1972, however, had his first appearance in Humayun Ahmed’s popular serial Bohubrihi in late 1980s Ahmed, meanwhile, became a name as a playwright and novelist. Aly Zaker further says, “I played the character of Mama in the mega hit serial. The character was comic and also eccentric. While enacting to character I came to know the great man who crates a character with every possible detail yet giving the actor full freedom to enact it. He, with extreme intelligence and wit, used to involve the actors in the characters that we could give out what he wanted to while enjoying the full liberty. And my character Mama became extremely popular.” What made him different from many others was his portrayal of the little things in life which often go unnoticed. The intricate relationships that exist within the family, the conflict of ideas between the older and younger generations, Ahmed excelled at bringing out ironies and pretences that exist in our society and weave stories rich in mirth that won him devoted followers who bought his books in their hundreds of thousands. It was Ahmed who was able to produce stories that the whole family could read and his greatest contribution lies in the fact that here was not only a brilliant teller of tales and a commercial success, but who went on to amaze with his direction of award-winning films. Aguner Parashmoni, Ahmed’s first foray into the silver screen won him the National Film Award in eight categories, including Best Picture and Best Director. People will remember him as the one who broke the mold and inked the lives of the unnoticed in his many books, for he was a man of all ages. We are really indebted to him as he became successful to attract the readers and pursue them in reading books when the habit was dying out. The young generation became addicted to watching films of other cultures and Internet. But it was Humayun Ahmed who changed their habits to draw their attention to his books containing easy language and humour reflecting the whole societal phenomena. The filmmaker Humayun also attracted people to go to cinema during a seemingly barren time of our film industry. The English medium students did not read Bengali books but it was Humayun Ahmed who made them read Bengali books. Not really an easy task it was and the success itself was not meager. It is a great success indeed. The whole national trend has been changed. Many writers of Pashchimbangla produce very quality books, which started flooding our book market but the trend got ebb due to the presence of Humayun Ahmed's books. Humayun Ahmed’s death is a terrible wrench for whole nation. He was liberating us from the dependency on the imported literary books from the Indian state of Pashchimbanga. He was a deft connoisseur of beauty and a dogged digger of mystery. His eyes generated unfathomable laser beams that could probe into the niches very deep in our Bangladeshi life and culture. He was on a literary expedition with the sublime heart of a litterateur but with the logical brain of an explorer. Humayun Ahmed has entered the history of Bangladesh as an architect of a mythical golden age when Bangladeshis rediscovered their hitherto hidden strength that they can also create pictures in human minds, that they also hold a powerful flint that can spark imagination of millions of readers. Humayun Ahmed’s life has been evanescent on this planet, but his luminous works will leave indelible footprints for the posterity. His influence on our time and age cannot be measured by an ordinary scale. Neither his span of life can be gauged by a worldly chronometer. With his -abrupt exit the entire world of Bangladeshi literature seems to have turned upside down. With his departure a rare gem has dropped from the literary crown that we were ornamenting and a gaping hole is seen in the literary tapestry that we were weaving, leaving us bereft of a great pathfinder. Eminent writer Hasan Azizul Haque observes that after Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Humayun Ahmed is the most popular writer in BangIa literature. Terming his death a great loss, Haque believes that it will take long period to fill up the vacuum that has been created at the death of Humayun Ahmed and we fully endorse these views. Let his so ul rest in eternal peace in heaven.

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