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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Bangla cinema’s quintessential ‘girl next door’: Kabori in the eyes of her co-stars

Entertainment Desk

As an actor, Sarah Begum Kabori enchanted audiences with her charm and grace, for which she became fondly known as the ‘Mishti Meye’ or ‘Sweet Girl’ of the silver screen in Bangladesh.
With her affable personality and boundless curiosity, she also left an indelible mark on many of her co-stars, with many of Dhallywood’s most popular figures, including Alamgir, Farooque, Zafar Iqbal, Uzzal and Sohel Rana, making their big-screen debuts opposite the ‘heartthrob’ heroine of the sixties.
Following the death of the legendary actress on Friday, actors Sohel Rana and Alamgir reminisced about the first heroine of their careers with bdnews24.com.
Formerly known as Mina Pal, Kabori, who grew up in Chittagong’s Firingi Bazaar in the 1960s, started her journey on the big screen with the film ‘Sutorang’ by producer Subhash Dutt at the age of just 14.
In the space of a few years, several films, including producer Zaheer Raihan’s Urdu film ‘Bahana’ and producer Khan Ataur Rahman’s ‘Soye Nadia Jage Pani’, raised eyebrows from Teknaf to Tetulia.
A young Sohel Rana made his debut as a hero opposite Kabori in the seventies in the movie ‘Masud Rana’ released on May 24, 1974. Besides acting, Sohel Rana also produced and directed the film under the name Masud Parvez.
As the first leading lady of his career, Sohel Rana would address Kabori as ‘heroine’ all her life. And Kabori would refer to him as ‘Parvez Bhai’.
Although ‘Masud Rana’ was Sohel Rana’s first film as a protagonist, he had earlier made a name for himself as a producer with ‘Ora Egaro Jon’.
In an interview with bdnews24.com on Saturday, Sohel Rana talked about various issues, including his work experience with Kabori.
“Back then, star artists were hesitant to work with new directors or heroes. But when I asked Kabori to act in my film, she said she would do the job. Later, she smiled and said, ‘who is the other heroine in the film?’ I said, Olivia. This time she said mischievously, ‘Don’t look at her again!’”
“She had a unique ability to easily befriend people. I have respected her ever since. She talked to me in a playful tone so that I would not feel uncomfortable working with her as a new director or hero. ”
In a career spanning five decades, Kabori captivated movie-goers with almost 200 films, notably ‘Sat Bhai Champa’, ‘Je Agune Puri’, ‘Deep Nebhe Nai’, ‘Smritituku Thak’, ‘Sareng Bou’, ‘Neel Akasher Neeche’, ‘Mainamati’, and ‘Dheu-er Por Dheu’.
She and Razzak were one of the most iconic onscreen pairings in Dhallywood. When the popularity of Uttam and Suchitra skyrocketed in the subcontinent, Razzak and Kabari became the traditional Bengali couple.
They acted in more than 50 films together, including ‘Neel Akasher Neeche’, ‘Mainamati’, ‘Dheu-er Por Dheu’, ‘Porichoy’, ‘Odhikhar’, ‘Beiman’, ‘Abak Prithibi’, ‘Sonali Akash’, ‘Anirban’, ‘Deep Nebhe Nai’ and ‘Rangbaj’.
Kabori mainly appealed to audiences in the sixties and seventies as the quintessential ‘girl next door’ — a homely, endearing woman, who is also gentle and charming. That is how she will forever be etched in the memory of audiences.
Sohel Rana believes that the audience found the image of the classical Bengali woman in Kabori.
“The creator has made Kabori in the image that we typically have of a Bengali woman. Today’s heroes and heroines all speak in the same way. They put colours on their hair. But no-one can imagine an ordinary Bengali woman in such a way.”
“When the people of Bengal are asked to think of a sweet girl, they only think of Kabari. That is why she is called ‘Mishti Meye’ (Sweet girl). This title has come from the heart of the people of Bengal. Even those who plough fields in the villages will say Kabori is a sweet girl — Kabori is a Bengali girl. Kabori is incomparable. ”
Sohel Rana said Kabori was quite merry in her personal life. “She would captivate the people she would hang out with. She loved to be cheerful with the people around her. In her spare time, she was immersed in storybooks and was very keen to learn something new.”
“When she talked to me, it tended to be about politics. With my younger brother (actor Rubel) she would talk about fitness. She wanted to learn something new by talking to people. Curiosity has taken Kabori a long way.”
“Those who have listened to Kabori speak in the last 10 to 12 years will be able to tell how sharply she could analyse democracy, socialism, secularism and nationalism. As an artist, as a human being, Kabori is incomparable. She was a true legend. There are many great artists in Bangladesh but you can’t find another Kabori.”
Alamgir made his acting debut in 1973 in the film ‘Amar Janmabhoomi’, directed by Alamgir Kumkum. The heroine was Kabori.
Alamgir was a young artist at the time. And as a senior artist, Kabori would always lookout for him during his first film shoot.
“Kabori is our revered sister. She was a great human being. And as an artist, I don’t have the standing to judge her. It would be imprudent to even want to do it.”

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