October 3, 2010 (Calcutta Tube): Iftekhar Ahmed is a young Bengali talented British actor. His acting is critically well appreciated around the world. Recently he has been involved with an epic Bengali film Hason Raja where he is going to share screen space with Legendary Mithun Chakraborty. Here Romuz Uddin talked to him to find out about his current project and the main driving force behind his passion.
Romuz: Tell us how did you started in the world of acting, what is the inspiration behind?
Iftekhar: In fact I started as a model. In 2001 I won the first Mr Asia UK modelling contest. I was the only Bangladeshi contestant in that completion and I was very proud to win that award. Part of the award offered us to go to Bollywood and explore acting opportunities. At that time I was studying at the Greenwich University, and Bollywood didn’t really much appeal to me. I was rather interested in football. My main passion was football; I was playing semi-professional football with Sporting Bengal. And also working as a coach for English Premiership club and West Ham United. So acting wasn’t within my radar. It wasn’t until 2006 when Sporting Bengal was approached to send footballers who could speak Hindi to play role in the film Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal. At that time I realised that I have a potential to get into film acting. I was successfully to got the part, and whilst shooting DDDG many other production personalities saw my talent and encouraged me. From that point onwards, my desire and passion for acting has grown and I’m determined to be successful in the field.
Romuz: Your first big role was on Hum Tum Aur Ghost. Despite Being a Bengali speaking person did you face any difficulties speaking Hindi?
Iftekhar: Well, I grew up watching Hindi films with my family, and I could speak Hindi quite fluently. With any language fluency comes with practise. I worked on a French version of the Pierre Moral film ‘From Paris with Love’. I learnt some French in school but wasn’t good enough. I needed lot of practise to polish the right accent and pronunciations. I enjoy speaking different languages. Through languages you can understand different cultures better.
Romuz: Not many are aware of you. Could you share more about your involvements and experiences?
Iftekhar: As I said I started out in DDDG in 2006. Following that I had lead a role in several UK based short films, including Award Nominated film ‘Lullaby’ by Ronald J Wright, and Portobello Film Festival Award Nominated film ‘Missing’. Working on short films was great because I had the opportunity to work closely with the directors and also work alongside with other British actors from film and theatre backgrounds. This allowed me to pick up wide ranges of experiences for both film and Theatre. Theatre acting is much more animated and you are in close contact with the audiences, and your emoting evolves with their reactions. Where film acting is very subtle often interacting with technology. Following that I worked on a string of commercials including ‘The National Lottery’. In 2008, I joined a reputable London based theatre group which was lead by renowned director Jonathon Chadwick. I was cast for the lead role Leonardo in his adaptation of Federico Loca Garcia’s “Blood Wedding”. Soon after that my talent was recognised and I got a call from Arshad Warsi to be in his upcoming film Hum Tum Aur Ghost.
Romuz: When you were approached to work on the film Hum Tum aur Ghost did you have any idea about the scale of the film?
Iftekhar: Well when I was approached to do the film, from the script I exactly knew the scale of role. My character Amit was the protagonist’s best friend, so naturally I figured this would be a big project for me. Plus I was required to travel to different locations for filming.
Romuz: We hear that that you are very close with friends with super stars John Abraham and Arshad Warsi what support and advise they give you?
Iftekhar: On the set of DDDG John Abraham just advised me to stay grounded, work hard, choose roles carefully and he made me aware of the difficulties that he faced breaking into the industry without any family connections. So I anticipate the same. Arshad Warsi advised me more of a personal level and he spent time seeing me performing and I’m shaping my professional attitude to my work. I world say Arshad is more like a mentor to me. I really respect both actors and they are always at the other end of the phone if I ever need them.
Romuz: You have worked with Fabulous Bengali beauty Bipasha Basu. How is she to work with?
Iftekhar: Bipasha was lovely, very friendly and very professional at her work. I was surprised to see how proud she was being a Bengali. She positively maintained that pride during the shooting of DDDG.
Romuz: As a British Bangladeshi how did you find working in Bollywood?
Iftekhar: It’s difficult to find acting work anywhere, let alone in Bollywood! The main obstacle I find with breaking into Bollywood is not having any family connections in the industry. Who you know is paramount in Bollywood and the whole industry is a very tight knit community. However, I have now made some good contacts who have noticed my talent and have helped with some upcoming projects in the pipeline.
Romuz: You are from British film industry and have worked in Bollywood. How would you describe these two very different experiences?
Iftekhar: British film industry is more organised and quite strict with punctuality. Everyone on the set knows exactly what they are doing and the whole set seemed to work like a machine and very professional. On the contrary Bollywood seems much more disorganised but they are great at achieving what they want. Both sides have their cultural differences and no one can leave anyone behind in terms the final of achievements.
Romuz: We juts came to know you have been offered a role in epic Bengali film Hason Raja. Please clarify the situation?
Iftekhar: It’s true. I’ve had several meetings with the filmmaker Ruhul Amin who is very keen to cast me in his film Hason Raja. He narrated the story to me and I’m pleased and excited to be able to working on such an epic Bengali film.
Romuz: It has been out of the news for long time. Can you update us the latest on the project? What is the reason for such delay?
Iftekhar: I can assure you the project is still going ahead. From my understanding I can gather, initially the project had financial difficulties, and lately Mithun Chakraborty couldn’t find enough time to allocate for this very spatial project. However, the film is starting in this coming year and the arrangement for the pre-production is its full swing.
Romuz: Can you tell little bit about your role in the film?
Iftekhar: I’m very excited about the possibility of playing significant character in the film. The tough nature of the character requires shaping up physically. At the moment I’m following a strict diet and working out in the gym in preparation for the role.
Romuz: You are going to share the screen space with one of the legendary of Bollywood actor Mithun Chakraborty in Hason Raja. How do you feel about it?
Iftekhar: It is difficult to express my excitement with words. Without a doubt I’m very excited. Everyone in my family are huge Mithun’s fans, we grew up watching his films, and it’s unbelievable to think finally I’m going to work alongside him. He is a living legend and a true icon. If I can emulate a small percentage of what he has achieved then I would consider myself a very lucky and successful performer.
Romuz: What is your expectation from the film Hason Raja, since you have a powerful role in the film?
Iftekhar: As the project is huge, talented personalities both from India and Bangladesh are participating, I do have big expectations. I do have complete faith in the filmmaker Ruhul Amin. Hope he is going to mould the character he is looking for, and hope I’ll be able to gain international recognition; which will possibly provide the future opportunities for myself.
Romuz. In your younger day’s people used to call you Mithun Chakraborty. Your friends give you the name the next Mithun, now you are going to be acting with your dream star Mithun, how do you feel about it?
Iftekhar: Well actually, some of my friends used to call me Mithun in a mocking way, I’m not sure why? Although I used to smile and take it as a compliment as I was a big fan of Mithun. How ironic, they never knew that, some day I’ll be sharing same screen space! I cannot wait tell you that for sure.
Romuz: Bappi Lahiri mentioned on Zee TV, Hason Raja is “The best music he has done so far”. Did you get a chance to listen the music?
Iftekhar: Yes I’ve heard the music of the film and it is the most spell-binding Bengali film music I ever heard. The complotted fusion of western and Indian classical and the Bengali folk tune are blended in a mind-blowing way. This is definitely going to get a wide circulation amongst the music lovers of the world.
Romuz: What are your most memorable moments so far in your new acting career?
Iftekhar: Working with the legendary Saroj Khan was a big highlight in my life. Taking dance instructions from her and compliments was a truly amazing experience. I love her enthusiasm and imagination. I also learned a great deal from the multi talented artist likes of Boman Irani, Diya Mirza, Vivek Agnihotri, Ashok Mehta and Kabir Kaushik to name a few was incredible. I mean these guys are top film industry professionals and I feel blessed to have worked with them especially being a British Bengali kid from UK.
Romuz: What would be your advice for upcoming students who are considering acting as a profession?
Iftekhar: It’s a very tough industry, and you can spend years out of work, so it’s crucial to have another job as a source of income. In the beginning you may face a lot of rejection, but if you persist and with a bit of luck, you may hopefully get recognised; that’s the key to get recognition.
by ROMUZ, Guest Author
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