Vijaya Laxmi Tripura
To the television viewers in Bangladesh, Urmila Srabanti Kar is a well-known name, as a powerful actor. She has been in the showbiz for the past eleven years, and due to her excellent acting skills and superb performance, Urmila’s name is already known amongst the television viewers in India, meaning, she has already reached over 220 million Bangla-speaking population. Recently, Urmila Srabanti Kar has been interviewed by Blitz. Here are the excerpts:
Blitz: You were born in a family, where your father late Ananta Kar was a military officer and mother Ms. Tripty Kar is an eminent singer and possibly a housewife. How the interest of entering the entertainment industry as an actor had appeared in your mind?
Urmila: To be honest, it was always a childhood dream and on top of that my family, especially my mother, has always been a part of the entertainment industry. Naturally with the support of my whole family and my passion towards acting has led me on to this path.
Blitz: Back in 2009, you had participated in a reality show titled ‘Lux-Channel i Superstar’, where you were placed as the 5th runners-up. From that point onwards, you began your career as an actor and your first television drama was Jatil Prem (Complicated Romance), which was aired in 2010. Will you please share the memories of your participation in the reality show and the experience of working in the debut drama?
Urmila: I still remember it as if it was just yesterday. My first ever drama was directed by Mr. Taher Shipon alongside co-star Mr. Chanchal Chowdhury. I vividly recall a funny incident that day when our director found out on the set that I was absolutely new to the silver screen and he was in complete shock fearing if I would be able to pull it off! Well eventually, everything turned out great and since that day I never looked back. That was my first beginning and I am always grateful for that day.
Blitz: Back in 2015 you have performed in a TV serial named ‘Meghey Dhaka Shohor’ (A Clouded City), where popular actors like Dolly Zahur, Parveen Sultana Diti, Azmeri Haque Badhon had also been your co-artists. How did you feel being working alongside all the big names of Bangladeshi drama circles?
Urmila: It was certainly overwhelming to say the least! Before I became an actress, I used to see them on television and the day when they were right in front me, I felt incredible. That day I took on the challenge to give it my best, to do justice to my character alongside such skilled and fabulous actors.
Blitz: In 2016, you have worked in a television serial named ‘Shonar Shikol’ (The Golden Chain) in the lead role with popular actor Apurbo. Commenting about you, Apurbo told a newspaper: “It is always a pleasure working with Urmila, and as an actor, she always strives to do her best”, while you said: “Among the actors I have worked with so far, Apurbo is one of the most serious about his profession. He has always been helpful since the start of my career, and I have learned a lot from him. I am grateful to director Syed Shakil for giving me the opportunity to work in such a great play”, which proves, your co-artists are always extremely satisfied with your dedication and performance as well as your strives for doing the best. In your opinion, how important is the co-artist for you in giving your best performance?
Urmila: I would say that performance is a “teamwork” in itself when two or more individuals are involved in any sort of work. This includes not only the co-star but also the whole production unit. Although I will point out that while all actors and actresses in our industry are very sincere with their work, having a co-star who shows maximum passion for acting on set definitely helps me to bring out the best in me.
Blitz: From one of your interviews in a vernacular daily in Bangladesh, we came to know, since childhood you had the dream of entering the media as an actor. In your academic life, you have pursued law, and it is rather tough to cope with the pressure of studies and giving time to acting. If we look into your academic background, the person Urmila Srabanti Kar should have been a lawyer, instead of an actor. Now you already have established yourself as a popular actor. But, do you also feel any interest in becoming a practicing lawyer?
Urmila: Acting is not only my career but also has been a significant part of my life. I wish to continue acting as long as I’m able to with the love and support of my fans. However, if I ever find myself in a situation where I am found with a lot of free time and no acting to do, I just might give practicing law professionally a shot.
Blitz: According to a Bangladeshi vernacular, your inspirations had always been your parents, whom you consider as your world. When you first worked in a TV drama, what was their reaction?
Urmila: If out of all the words in the world I had to choose one to describe their reactions, I would choose the word “proud”. They were simply over the moon to have realized that I had made it and that my life would never be the same again. They were incredibly happy. Without their support, I would have never made it this far.
Blitz: An actor of your stature should have already worked in the films. Have you ever thought of stepping into the cine world?
Urmila: Yes, I have thought about it and in fact last year I did do a film. It is called “From Bangladesh” and directed by the very talented director Mrs. Shahnewaz Kakoli. The shooting of this emotional yet heart whelming art film was filmed in late 2019. As an artist I am always ready to work with meaningful scripts and seize all opportunities that may come by.
Blitz: We know, in March this year, you have worked in a drama named Chhaya Kabya (Shadow Poem) under the director of popular maker Azad Kalam. Before that, you have worked in another drama named Khoka Babu under the direction of the same maker. In Khoka Babu, your co-artist was eminent actor Salauddin Lavlu, while in Chhaya Kabya, it was Rawnak Hasan. Both are produced by Bangladesh’s leading production company named Crown Entertainment. In your personal opinion, how essential it was for a large company like Crown Entertainment to enter the showbiz with substantial financial backing and technical arrangements?
Urmila: Certainly, producing and making any sort of content in the entertainment industry requires a substantial amount of financing and the “know-hows” of the business aspect. I think they were very essential.
Blitz: Is there any character in your mind that you want to play in the future?
Urmila: I would love to play any character depicted by the great Rabindranath Tagore in any of his works.
Blitz: Bangladeshi television channels are not available to the viewers in India, although there are 90 million Bangla-speaking population in that country, who are great fans of the Bangladeshi dramas. Do you think, the Indian government should take some immediate measures for making Bangladeshi satellite television channels available to Indian viewers?
Urmila: Yes I certainly do! Not only will a move like this will expand our industry further into foreign markets but will also help us to share our culture and diversify our views. As we already know that we have a massive following in India, the policymakers should definitely look into this matter in order to provide Bangladeshi entertainment and art to the people of their country to meet their needs of entertainment.
Blitz: Do you think, with the change of time, gradually the video streaming platforms are replacing the television channels?
Urmila: Yes and No. Certainly, video streaming platforms are gaining much-deserved popularity but I don’t really think it is a replacement for television channels. They are more likely to complement each other and co-exist in the entertainment industry. First, there was the radio, then the television and now the internet. I think they are all here to stay.
Blitz: Bangla film industry is in dire crisis for the past few years. What should be done to salvage this industry?
Urmila: There are many ways we could improve the situation of our industry. To point out a few, the very obvious ones first, let’s strive and continue to make better entertainment products than we had made yesterday. Promoting and advertising our work locally and internationally is extremely essential. From a more technical perspective, I would suggest having a balanced screen time ratio for advertisements in between dramas, films, shows, etc.
Blitz: Indian films and dramas are already reaching the global audiences, both through the television channels as well as the online streaming platforms. In your opinion, what measures are essential for promoting Bangladeshi film and drama in the international market?
Urmila: We just need to keep loving our own work in our own country. We are a nation of 170 million people. When we love our work, we take it with us to places. I know people working day and night to take Bangladesh to every corner of the world. We just got to keep moving forward. Good things are already happening.
Blitz: Newspapers and television channels play a key role in promoting any member of the entertainment industry. Don’t you think, such exposures onwards should also be in the English press, as that only can help the members of the Bangladeshi entertainment industry becoming known to the international community?
Urmila: Yes. I think some online news portals are already doing a good job at it and also traditional newspapers have been doing it for some time now. Bangla is our mother language and very dear to my heart, English press should accompany Bangla press and not replace it.
Blitz: And, here is the last question. Please share your dreams and aspiration, which you sincerely wish to accomplish within the next few years.
Urmila: I would like to work harder for my fans and my family and friends who look up to me with pride. I would like to be happy and make everyone around me happy. I am pretty content with my life as it is. Cheers to “live and let live…”
Thank you Blitz for this opportunity.