By Sabrina Fatma Ahmad
5 questions with the fierce and fabulous Sunerah Binte Kamal
With some 404k followers on Instagram, a not-inconsiderable modelling resume, a National Film Award for her debut performance, and a role in a short film that boasts Riz Ahmed and Jordan Peele as executive producer, the young Sunerah Binte Kamal has already had quite the storied career. The quietly confident multi-hyphenate has had no problem calling out journalists for getting her name wrong, or turning down acting projects that didn’t feel right, without ever losing the charm and charisma that bolstered her meteoric rise. In between the bustle of Ramadan projects and promotions, she got on a call with MWB for a quick interview.
There is no denying your talent, or your remarkable work ethic. You’ve also displayed a knack for being exactly at the right time and place for each major breakthrough in your career, whether it’s getting an ‘in’ into modelling, or your performance in a music video, convincing Taneem Rahman Angshu to offer you the lead role in No Dorai. Do you believe in fate?
Sure. Although I prefer to think of it as a combination of effort and “timing.” Let’s just say I am a big believer in manifesting. If you do everything on your part to prepare for what you want, and to place yourself in the right way, then luck, or the universe, or whatever you call it, can and usually does do the rest. The “fate” part of it is the timing working out, I suppose.
That’s some serious manifesting! You won the National Film Award for your debut performance!
[Laughs] That was a surprise. I was so new to the field, I hadn’t even learned what big awards to aim for yet, and to get that was so validating, but also pressure. Now I’ll have to work even harder to prove myself.
So would you say the industry is treating the actors right? What can we do better?
We can always do better, but I like to think positively. We have a lot more freedom now in projects we want to pursue, more platforms like OTT, a bigger variety of stories and roles to choose from than we did before. Since No Dorai, there’s been a number of really good films made here that are gaining both critical acclaim and commercial success, so there’s more work available for actors. But it would be nice to see more investment into the projects. Sometimes a shoot that should take weeks has to be wrapped up in a few hours because of production costs. Sometimes the producers have to scrimp on logistic support or talent development resources because of budget constraints. If they had bigger or more flexible budgets to work with, the production quality would be even better, and this is across the industry, at every level.
You picked No Dorai as soon as you read the script. You recently made headlines for turning down a script. How do you decide what projects to get involved in?
It’s not always a logical, or practical decision. I’ve turned down some great stories before. It’s more of a “feeling,” or a sense that this project will be right for me, or this project will not be. I will look at a script and if it speaks to me, then I will do it.
What’s a dream role you’d like to play?
Hey, I just got started! [laughs] Honestly, there are so many roles out there, and I am so new to the industry, I haven’t even begun to explore them. I don’t think there’s a role I wouldn’t try out – I want to try everything! But if you ask me what kind of role I want to do next, or soon, it would be something very simple – maybe a romance, maybe a realistic portrayal of a simple middle-class girl, and things she faces. Just a well-written role.
What’s next for Sunerah?
Well, we’ve just completed production on a film that’s releasing this Eid, and I’m going to start shooting for my next project in a few months, so you’ll see very soon!
Fashion Direction & Styling: Mahmudul Hasan Mukul
Photographer: Farabi Tamal