Thursday, July 18, 2024

In Conversation with Zerifa Wahid – Popular Assamese Actress

Robin Bhuyan (Editor)

Naba Kumar Sharma (Staff Reporter)

Zerifa Wahid is a popular actress who works in the Assamese film industry. Throughout her career, she has acted in several well-known movies such as ‘Tumi Mor Matho Mur’, ‘Nayak’, ‘Agnisakshi’, ‘Antaheen Jatra’, ‘Bandhon’ ‘Dwaar’ and ‘Kothanodi’, which had earned international acclaim and also won a National Film Award. Recently, Enigmatic Horizon had a conversation with her, where she discusses her career, struggles faced by artists, her thoughts on Assamese cinema, as well as her views towards cinema as a whole.

EH: You are an established and well-known actress in Assamese cinema. Kindly tell us how and when you entered this world?

ZW: I was studying at Nichols High School in the eighth grade when my Uncle Dulu Jamal, an established actor, along with film director Mridul Gupta, approached me with an offer to act. I accepted, and my first film as a child artist was “Abhiman,” directed by Mridul Gupta. It was an honor for me to work alongside Chetana Das, renowned Assamese actress, and other popular actors such as Briju Phukan and Tapan Das.

EH: It is said that artists in Assam don’t receive their due appreciation and are often underpaid. What would you say about this?

ZW: Unfortunately, I would have to agree. It’s quite unfortunate that artists, unlike other professionals on a film set, such as makeup artists and technicians, often face underpayment. There is a misconception that artists are financially well-off, which leads to hesitation in paying us for our efforts. However, many artists continue to act because of their attachment and passion for this profession. Producers should consider that artists are dedicating their valuable time, setting aside personal and professional responsibilities. Therefore, they should not hesitate to pay artists for their time and efforts, keeping this in mind while budgeting for a movie.

EH: What qualities do you think are required for someone to become successful in the world of acting?

ZW: I believe the first step is self-awareness. Being sensitive is crucial for an actor. Understanding and connecting with the character is essential. For example, in a crying scene, the actor should be so connected to the character that tears flow naturally. A good actor should completely identify themselves with the character. When quality acting is presented to the audience, it is bound to be appreciated.

EH: What differences, in your opinion, exist between acting on stage and acting on camera?

ZW: To be honest, I don’t see many differences. Ultimately, your job is to act, whether it’s on stage or on camera. However, when acting on camera, actors should strive to complete the scene in one take and not rely on retakes.

EH: What would you say about the lack of cinema halls in the state?

ZW: It is unfortunate that Assam lacks the proper infrastructure to promote cultural creativity. The government has shown little interest in the cultural scenario, often inviting actors only for functions or celebrations. Although the idea of mini-cinema halls was proposed, we hardly see any of them today. Governments have not taken this matter seriously, and there is also a scarcity of auditoriums for drama shows. Even the few auditoriums we have lack proper infrastructure. Senior artists have been urging the government to construct enough cinema halls, but their pleas have gone unheard.

EH: What can we do to take Assamese cinema to a national or international level?

ZW: By focusing on producing quality content in Assamese, we have a chance to reach a national or international level. Several films from our region have already achieved international recognition.

EH: What are your plans for the future?

ZW: In the future, I plan to continue acting in movies. Although we don’t always get to play the roles we desire, I hope to have the opportunity to portray interesting characters that I can connect with. Additionally, I aspire to produce films that can rival international productions. I also wish to be involved in the world of drama and contribute to child and women welfare, as well as promote health and nutrition.

EH: There is also a lack of schools or institutions in Assam to promote acting or direction for those who aspire to have a career in the film industry. What are your thoughts on this?

ZW: If we truly want to promote acting among our youth, it is essential to establish as many acting schools as possible. These schools should incorporate a contemporary syllabus that aligns with the industry’s demands. Additionally, I strongly believe that cinema-related education should be imparted at the university level. By providing comprehensive training and educational opportunities, we can nurture and cultivate talent in the film industry.

EH: You have worked with several filmmakers such as Jahnu Baruah, Bidyut Chakraborty, and Bhaskar Haziraka. With whom have you had the best experience, and why?

ZW: I believe Bidyut Chakraborty was the director who had the most profound influence on me. He served as my mentor, and his sudden demise left me feeling somewhat lost. Subsequently, I had the privilege of working with Jahnu Baruah. I learned a great deal from him as well. He consistently reminded me that cinema is a serious profession that requires dedication and commitment. I am also optimistic about the current generation of filmmakers and their potential to create impactful work.

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