Up Close & Personal with Sharmili Ahmed

Just like many other artists around the world, Sharmili Ahmed, an actor now in her 70s misses the action in front of the camera. Her sterling career, which began at the tender age of 4 has encircled the media-sphere of theatre, television, and silver screen for more than 6 decades. The thespian owes her journey to her late father and grandfather, both of whom were renowned organizers of cultural activities in Rajshahi. Coming from a family with a rich legacy of music and drama, it was natural for Sharmili Ahmed to pursue acting as both her passion and profession. In a tete-a-tete with ICE Today, the veteran actress sheds light on her illustrious career.

We were doing a cover shoot for ICE Today’s July 2020 issue. Clad in a beautiful parrot green printed cotton saree from label Sraddha from Bishwo Rang by designer Biplob Saha, Sharmili Ahmed looked like the epitome of the classic Bengali beauty. The makeup artist flourished the veteran actor with a final few touch-ups, and then the interview began.
“Acting is my life, my first love, a part of my existence. For the last five months, being stuck at home, I was suffocating. This is why when you guys called me up, my daughter Tonima suggested doing this shoot. She was like, ‘Even though this is not an acting stint, you should attend it; I am sure you would feel good being in front of the camera’,” Sharmili confessed candidly.

The world of culture and arts is rife with the debate that web series are promoting vulgarity under the guise of being contemporary. According to Sharmili, the golden days of insightful and thought-provoking contents with true depth of matter have passed us by. She believes a good director must be well-conversant with not only acting but also light, editing, and music arrangement. “One has to be versatile to be good in acting, “she states.

When asked if she regrets not being able to work with a particular director, Sharmili recalled her fascination to play a character like Neetu played by Supriya Chowdhury in Ritwik Ghatak’s film Meghe Dhaka Tara. She found her opportunity in the film Shurjo Deeghol Bari. Having worked with Alamgir Kabir in Rupali Saikotey and with Subhash Dutt’s in Abirvaab, Sharmili contents that she is grateful for all that she has learned from the seasoned directors. “The directors today are totally different and in some cases are not skilled at all,” she laments.

However, she doesn’t resent having too many films to her name. “I just didn’t want to do any kind of films. The films I have worked in are mostly entertainment-based; some are infotainment in nature; so far I am lucky to have acted in 150 films,” she impressively states.

An avid fan of Sofia Loren from Hollywood and Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen from the West Bengal, Sharmili Ahmed believes our country too has many talents when it comes to acting, for example, Rowshan Jamil, Humayun Faridi, etc. all of whom were stupendous actors during their time and could have gone the extra mile provided there were befitting scripts to do justice to their acting charisma.

During her twilight years, being under a countrywide lockdown, Sharmili Ahmed wanted to keep herself cheerful by watching as many movies and dramas as possible. “Before the corona, I was acting regularly and had little time to watch TV. Now staying at home for months and days, I remained busy watching good movies and drama serials.”

As the interview neared its end, Sharmili Ahmed expressed her hope that things will turn around soon. “Keeping things under lockdown forever would make no sense. We have to come out of our places; start working again, but we must ensure that we maintain hygiene safety strictly. I believe with that caution, even though slowly, we will be able to get back to new normalcy and the economy and entertainment industry will get back its mojo,” she concludes on a positive note.