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Remembering Aly Zaker: A guiding genius

Published : 27 Nov 2021 08:23 PM

Saturday marks the first death anniversary of eminent Ekushey Padak-winning thespian and freedom fighter Aly Zaker.

A muse for many, the cultural icon passed away on November 27, 2020, after a four-year battle with cancer. He had also tested positive for Covid-19, two days before his death.

Different cultural organisations have lined up several programmes to commemorate the eventful life and works of the artiste. Zaker was born to Muhammad Taher and Rezia on November 6, 1944, in Ratanpur village of Brahmanbaria's Nabinagar upazila.

He spent most of his childhood in places like Feni, Khulna and Kushtia because of his father's transferable job as a government official.

After completing his Matriculation from St Gregory School, Dhaka, in 1960 and higher secondary from Notre Dame College in 1962, Zaker graduated from the sociology department of the University of Dhaka.

His glorious career as one of the most versatile cultural personalities began after the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. As a freedom fighter and artiste of the Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra, he took part in the war.

He then started his journey as an actor and became one of the most successful performers on stage, television and silver screen, playing a wide variety of roles.

With renowned theatre troupe Aranyak Natyadal’s play 'Kabar', written by legendary playwright and intellectual martyr Munier Chowdhury, Zaker shot to limelight as a thespian in 1972. 

He joined Nagorik Natya Sampradaya in the same year and remained with the troupe till he died, eventually becoming its chairman.

Zaker directed 15 plays and acted in 31 plays for his troupe till 2019, including Kopenik-er Captain, Galileo, Nurul Diner Sarajibon, Macbeth, Achalayatan and Dewan Gazir Kissa.

His performances in the role of Nurul Din, Galileo and Dewan Gazi earned him acclaim from critics and fans. He also achieved prominence in television dramas, including Aaj Rabibar and Bohubrihee. Zaker also performed in more than 50 plays for Bangladesh Radio.

Zaker received Ekushey Padak, the country’s second-highest civilian award in 1999. He also won several other awards, including the National Academy of Performing Arts Award in 1977, Sequence Award of Merit in the category of outstanding theatre personality in 1984, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Award, Bangabandhu Award, Munier Chowdhury Award, and Naren Biswas Award.

Zaker was married to renowned and popular cultural personality Sara from 1977 till his death. He is survived by his wife, son Iresh Zaker, also a popular actor, and daughter Sria Sharbojoya.