Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dr. Humayun Ahmed (1948-2012): The First Pop-writer of Bangladesh

Dr. Humayun Ahmed -- the most popular writer in Bangladesh
Photo courtesy: Reflections (blog)

Dr. Humayun Ahmed, who died on July 19 in a New York hospital, was the first pop-writer (popular writer) of Bangladesh. Before his books started to appear in the Bangladesh book market, writers of Bengali books from West Bengal of India dominated the field. It can be said with certainty that Dr. Humayun Ahmed, not only broke the monopoly of Indian books but also unilaterally created a new breed of readers, especially among the teens and youths. This readership also expanded to the elder ones with his creation of teleplays and films.

Dr. Ahmed was a writer, novelist, script writer for TV and film, and film director. He excelled in all these fields and gathered millions of admirers and fans.

Some of my sons were also his book readers and admirers. In early 1990s, we went to the Ekushey February book fair at the Bangla Academy compound in Dhaka and bought one his books from a stall where he was sitting and requested for his autograph on it. Dr. Humayun Ahmed, who looked serious and who had a smoker’s lips – darkened and unattractive – signed the books without any expression or smile!  In appearance, he looked completely the opposite of what one pictures him mentally from reading his books and watching his teleplays and films -- a congenial and humorous person.

Dr. Ahmed, a prolific writer, unprecedented in the history of Bangladesh, wrote more than 200 novels, over 100 teleplays -- including some drama serials, and more than a half-a-dozen film scripts. He also directed eight films. Unbeknown to many, he was an amateur painter, who, in the last 10 years, painted more than 500 paintings – mostly in watercolour – which were never exhibited or sold. 

Once he was a professor of and an expert in chemistry, yet he made a foul in mental chemistry of his married life. In one of his books for children, he had profusely praised his wife, Gultekin, for her dedication and love and his three daughters and a son for their lovableness. After 30 years of marriage, he left his wife and looked for a greener pasture. He went after his TV drama serial actress Meher Afroz Shaon -- a teen friend of his teenage daughter -- and married her in 2005 and sired two more sons. 

Although he had a fair share of his critics, Dr. Humayun Ahmed, has definitely earned a place in the Bengali literature of Bangladesh and he will continue to live among his readers through his innumerable books. The presence of thousands of mourners at his funeral proves his popularity in Bangladesh.

A Short Life-Sketch

 Born on November 13, 1948, at the village of Kutubpur of Netrakona District, Bangladesh, Dr. Humayun Ahmed passed the Secondary School Certificate exams from Bogra Zilla School (1965), Higher Secondary Certificate from Dhaka College (1967), and B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the University of Dhaka, and Ph.D. in polymer chemistry from the North Dakota State University in Fargo of North Dakota, USA (1982).

He received many awards and prizes for his work in literature, TV and film.

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