Azim Uddula’s childhood is one that will inspire envy in the youth of this generation for sure. Growing up in Bagerhat, a south-western district in Khulna division, Azim grew up surrounded by the bounties of nature. “I was completely opposite in nature during my early boyhood.” The mild and composed Azim that we see today used to be wild at heart and brimming with crazy ideas. “I loved growing up like that; playing football with friends in a vast field full of green grass or swimming in the rivers is something quite unimaginable for the kids of today. But I was lucky to enjoy all those. Life was much simpler and beautiful,” he reminisced.
So how is life now? Why does it seem so complicated nowadays? When asked, Azim takes a deep breath; he doesn’t look lost but one can see him slipping into a realm of thoughts to ponder over a question pertinent to baby boomers, millennials and Gen Y alike.
We were sitting at Tabaq for the interview. The famous coffee shop at Jamuna Future Park had only a smattering of customers despite it being a Friday. We were just back from a two-day long shoot done at breakneck speed at Kuakata sea beach for our Annual Men’s Issue. While I was still recovering from the weekday blues, Azim looked energized and fresh. “I think the speed at which we do everything and want everything at our end has something to do with simple things become complicated. For example, you post a picture, you will get instant reactions in the forms of like, comment and emojis. And all these on a virtual platform, without having actual interaction with the person who is being commented at. Social media culture has encouraged us to make a remark on anything and everything. Most of the times we do that without knowing a person at all. That has something to make life all complicated. Do I sound philosophical?” Azim chuckled at the end of his answer. “No, you don’t. I would not state anything different from what you have said. We have become very reactionary,” was my reply. “So you must be facing it more than many because you are a model; they see you always; your picture; your stardom–everything is open to criticism, right?” I asked. Azim looked thoughtful again. “I always take life with a pinch of salt. I have taught myself to be content with things I have; regretting over something I don’t have has never occurred in my case. That helps me feel content. I have seen many of my model and actor colleagues getting unnerved at the very thought of competition but I never felt it that way. But yes, I am always open to criticism. Whoever made it, I tried to listen to it carefully. Be it in my modeling career or in other pursuits I have in professional life.”
Many might not know that Azim is a graduate in Accounting from Dhaka College. He had out to be an entrepreneur in the leather industry at an early age. So how did this whole accountant-turned-super model happen? “To be honest, I wanted to study fashion designing but when that didn’t happen, I opted for accounting. I was working out in a gym in Dhaka and one of my friends named Afzal, who was already a model suggested to me that I should try my luck in the field. That’s how it all started. I had a humble beginning. I did a personal shoot and it reached the owner of a growing brand at that time and that’s it.” It was almost a decade ago when Tanjim Haque was looking for fresh faces to launch his denim brand. “I am thankful to ICE Today as one of my working out pictures for an ICE editorial became quite popular in the fashion circle leading to my first big break. I am equally grateful to photographers like Abu Naser and Rafikul Islam Raf who have taken amazing pictures and always guided me like big brothers,” he added. During his decade long career as a model, Azim has worked with almost all the top brands. Among which, his experience with Cats Eye is something he held very dear to his heart. “Rusho Bhai from Cats Eye is one person I always consider as an elder brother; his way of approaching a critical issue or how he handles challenges have always inspired me to emulate in my own life.”
Azim has also worked in some commercials for telcos and other FMCG brands but fashion has always been an indispensable part of his life. Maybe it was because he couldn’t study fashion designing, being a model walking on the ramp or posing in attire, Azim has always found a way to accomplish his unfulfilled desires. Is this what prompted you to launch a fashion brand of your own, when asked, Azim stated: “AZ is something I have pinned high hopes on. When I started my business in leather goods, I chose to do so because I thought the clothing market is already saturated. But eventually, I realized that good fashionable clothing for men is still lacking in the market. That’s why I along with a couple of other investors have started this brand.
Apart from all the works, how does Azim Uddula’s personal life look? “it’s as chilled out as it seems from the outside. I told you already that having fewer expectations have worked magic for me. It makes life easier,” he shared. The model who has walked on the ramps in both home and abroad is also a globe trotter. On that note, he shared his fascination for experiencing something new. “Whenever I visit a city or a natural site, I love to get lost in its essence. Like cities offer you ample opportunities to hang out in malls, pubs, museums. Since I like shopping, shopping destinations are always something I look forward to while traveling. On the other hand, natural beauty will provoke thoughts in your mind which otherwise are lost in the noise of urban life. I always want to keep at least one such visit in my itinerary while traveling.”
As the interview drew to an end, it was almost evening. An hour had run amid serious discussions and light banter. Thought I was tempted to order Tabaq’s super decadent chocolate cake and prolong the conversation, I remembered my next appointment. Parting ways, I tossed Azim one last question: where do you see yourself five years down the line? Here or abroad? With his signature amiable smile, Azim replied, ” I actually don’t know. But this much I can ensure that wherever life takes me, I will try to make peace with that phase and keep myself happy and fit.”