'There was a childlike playfulness about Zaker. There was a street in Tangail notorious for being a hotspot for robbery. He once took me to that street to see robbers, which was madness, I thought.'
Actor Tariq Anam Khan was a close friend and collaborator of legendary thespian Aly Zaker. He recalled his memories of the late actor in this chat with Dhaka Tribune Showtime.
“My memories of Aly Zaker are countless. Those are tormenting me right now. When I moved to Dhaka from Shatkhira, he took me under his wing and the rest is history.
“I went to see his play Baki Itihash with his theatre troupe Nagorik. His posture, his vocal projection, his personality- there was a magnetic quality in it all. When he used to exit the Bangladesh Betar office, I used to stare in his wake, in awe of his aura.
“I once needed a testimonial from him at that time to go to India to study theatre. He wrote: “Tariq has the zeal of acting.” I didn’t know the meaning of “zeal” at the time. I went home, looked it up in the dictionary and discovered what a compliment that was, coming from him. His diction mesmerized me.
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“After coming back from India, I frequented his office and his house. He adored Nima (actor and Tariq Anam Khan’s wife). So, when we started seeing each other, I became closely involved with Nagorik.
“His contribution to the realm of theatre is immeasurable. He started the concept of selling theatre tickets. Before that, we used to depend on contributions and sponsors. Nagorik started selling tickets in the 70s. The concept of conducting theatre workshops was also introduced by him.
“There was a childlike playfulness about him. There was a street in Tangail notorious for being a hotspot for robbery. He once took me to that street to see robbers, which was madness, I thought. We even protested on the streets together during the democratic movement of 1990. He would lead the processions, making sure we weren’t harmed.
“We played in Macbeth together. He used to always mess up the last scene and jokingly blame it on me. I was also the associate director for The Tempest. These collaborations I will treasure for the rest of my life.
“He revived Galileo recently because he sensed his time was running out. I didn’t go to watch the play this time, as I couldn’t bear to distort my memory of him playing this role decades ago.
“He loved to eat duck curry. Nima cooked some for him recently. I saw him about two weeks back. He looked frail, but chitchatted like usual. “Don’t mind if I lay down, I’m not feeling very well,” he told me. That was the last time I we met.
“I had the honour of calling him my friend and mentor. His company and advice inspired me in every step. He was much senior to me, but that age difference never came in the way of our friendship. With his passing, I’ve lost not only a friend, but a brother who I’ll cherish eternally.”
Aly Zaker passed away at United Hospital in Dhaka at around 6:40am on Friday. He was diagnosed with Covid-19 two days prior to his death.