Keramat Moula is a seasoned theatre activist and movie actor. He has wide ranging talents, from stage design to teaching film and media, Keramat Moula has become a guardian figure of our art and culture. The Daily Star recently engaged him in a conversation:
Tell us about your early life.
Keramat Moula: I was born on November 15, 1942 in Jessore. I completed my primary education at St Barnabas High School, Kolkata and matriculation from Prionath High School, Dhaka (later renamed as Nawabpur Government High School).
I studied in Government Institute of Arts and Crafts, popularly known as Art College (now Charukola). At that time there was no formal certification system after completion of the five year course at Art College. We moved for a formal certification and succeeded. I took part in the movement for resisting the National Education Policy for which I was expelled in 1964. I actively took part in the agitation against banning the observation of Rabindranath's 100th birth anniversary.
How did you become involved in the media?
Keramat Moula: I had an attachment with the erstwhile Pakistan Arts Council (now Shilpakala Academy) where I came to know Kalim Sharafi the late Rabindra Sangeet singer and a cultural personality. Inspired by him, I joined Bangladesh Television in 1965. Though I was supposed to do design work for television shows, in reality my responsibilities included stage design, acting, production and so on.
Your primary identity was of a design artist and gradually you acted in theatre and movies. Which identity do you enjoy the most?
Keramat Moula: I love to be called a theatre activist. I started acting on stage at an early age in a play called 'Bharate Chai', a production of Shantinagar Club. I have acted in 37 plays so far and still feel drawn towards theatre. I have been acting in “Shat Ghater Kanakori” produced by Theatre Natyadal, for more than 60 years. I was a member of the first ever theatre troupe that travelled to India to stage a play called “Buro Shaliker Ghare Ro”. I was a member of the presidium of Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation from 1999 to 2011.
What differences do you find in theatre of yesteryears and that of today?
Keramat Moula: Theatre has become tougher nowadays due to the onslaught of TV play culture. Today's audience is not happy to watch on stage the same things they watch on the TV screen. You have to offer something new in theatres so that the audience can find it more appealing.
You acted in a number of movies too. Tell us about your movie career.
Keramat Moula: In 1970 I debuted in the movie “Manush Omanush”. Then I acted in 16 movies including “Surjodighol Bari”, “Ekhoni Shomoy”, “Mohanayak”, “ Rajlokkhi Srikanto”, “Padma Nadir Majhi”, “Nodir Nam Modhumoti”, “Dipu Number 2”, “Dukhai”, “Nondito Noroke” and more.
What have you been doing lately?
Keramat Moula: I teach the course 'Media and Film' in Stamford University. I spend time with my grandchildren Eric and Alina, hang out with friends and read books. I have been actively involved with Sommilito Sangskritik Jote since its inception. I am a member of the advisory committee of Bangladesh Charu Shilpi Sangsad and a life member of Bangladesh Ovinoy Shilpi Shangha. These involvements keep me busy.
How do you feel as recipient of Ekushey Padok and Munir Chowdhury Shommanona.
Keramat Moula: What I value above everything is the love that I received from art-loving people and that for me is my most important achievement. I am fulfilled as I count as my friends legendary figures like Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin, Jasimuddin, Kalim Sharafi, Prof. Monsur Uddin, Hamidur Rahman and many others.
What are your thoughts about future?
Keramat Moula: I am still 35 within and I will remain so. I want to act for as long as I live.
The writer is a contributor to The Daily Star.