By Zareen Nawar
In 2019 Channel i produced a reality show called Ke Hobe Masud Rana to find the next modern-day actor with the chops to act as the international espionage agent Masud Rana. Even though someone else had won the show, the role in the movie ultimately went to the action star ABM Sumon. The proficient actor had already made his name visible in the Bangladeshi action flick category prior to earning the role of Masud Rana and he told us more when MWB recently caught up with the strapping actor over the phone to talk about the movie and himself.
So how did you manage to bag the coveted character Masud Rana?
When Hollywood joined forces with Jaaz Multimedia, they already had a few shortlisted candidates yet the Hollywood production team wanted to further explore more auditions by other actors including the ones who were already shortlisted prior to the merger. That was when I auditioned during a secret audition and I was ultimately selected to play the part of Masud Rana.
Were you a fan of Masud Rana growing up?
Yes, Masud Rana used to be a favorite character of mine while I was growing up. We might not have extensively used the word fan in the day but he was our hero. I was a ninth or tenth grader when I began reading Qazi Anwar Hussain’s Masud Rana novels. I think I spent several years reading the novels since then. In the middle, however, I could not keep up the reading but I dove back again into Masud Rana’s world since I was handed the role.
Apart from being aware of the universe, what other methods did you undertake to prepare yourself as Masud Rana?
There was admiration towards Masud Rana within me already from the get-go, so the task of being aware of who he is and how he does his work naturally came with that feeling of admiration. As a team we practiced acting for about three to four days every week, keeping in mind that we would have to practice and then act for a long while to film the entire movie. In the meantime, the script was also getting fine-tuned which meant we also had to practice adapting to the changes made in the script and then eventually act in the final product. These measures helped all of us prepare appropriately.
How was your experience as an action star this time different compared to your previous action ventures?
The fights on MR-9 are of the extended type and for the first time, I was given a body double. The producers were rather strict about not allowing artists to take any severe risks physically even though I would have been able to do a few more stunts. These have been the more striking differences that I experienced on the set in contrast to my earlier experiences in action films.
What was it like working with Hollywood and Bollywood stars?
I really liked working with them since we got to observe their artistry closely. Thanks to our shared history of being part of action movies, most of us had that factor as a common ground for our discussions and interactions. We were able to get in sync easily because of that one factor or genre by exchanging our respective knowledge and experiences. I personally asked plenty of questions to Michael Jai White in particular about fighting techniques since I have seen several of his works. I was able to ask him detailed questions regarding filming timelines or sequences of certain parts of his movies or series too and he graciously explained them to me.
All of the cast members were extremely cordial.
Could you mention which locations the movie was filmed in?
The US and Bangladesh were the only primary filming locations. We had filming locations in different parts of the US including Las Vegas, Nevada and California. Sets were created for all the other remaining countries or locations mentioned in the movie.
What was your favorite aspect or part about filming the movie?
Filming is fun for me. I have fun when I am acting, so there really was not any specific part that I enjoyed filming over the others. I simply had fun filming the movie.
“For me, the defining vision of Masud Rana from the film was when a sunglass wearing Sumon, dressed in a cream linen suit and white shirt, was waiting outside a US airport, leaning against a Ferrari. That ‘debonair’ image will endure. Whoever engineered the scene deserves kudos and a bottle of Laphroaig.” ~ Towheed Feroze
Do you have different preparation styles for the various genres of movies that you have chosen to be a part of until now or do you only make use of acting practices?
My process changes or differs as per the requirements of the character that I play at a given time. The major differences in the characters ultimately push me to take preparation steps accordingly. Preparing for Masud Rana was a bit similar to the time I was preparing for the Dhaka Attack but the preparation time for the latter was comparatively short. My preparation for The Beauty Circus was definitely vastly different. Basically, the characters themselves demand the preparations out of me.
Who have been your heroes/idols in respect to your profession?
I don’t have a specific idol per say but I admire the works and acting of actors Manna, Zafar Iqbal, Asaduzzaman Noor, and Humayun Faridi to name a few. In fact, while reading Qazi Anwar Hussain’s novel as a teenager, I would picture the late actor Zafar Iqbal as Masud Rana in my head.
Is there a movie genre that you have not done yet but would love to be a part of eventually?
I am not after a specific genre but I would love to play Nandail er Yunus. He is a character who was authored by Humayun Ahmed.
What is a significant lesson you have learned as an actor?
After I am done filming a movie, I do feel like I have learned a lot, all in one go at that. I take with me the whole process of the workings of a production unit regardless of genre. I am constantly enlightened and captivated by the overall mechanisms of filming.
When did you want to become an actor, how does that story go for you?
I wanted to become a barrister when I was in school. I wished to study law at Dhaka University but I missed out on that department after I sat for my admissions exam there. I even chose Arts for my SSC and HSC so that I could head towards becoming a barrister but that dream of mine was shattered. Then I did not really have a backup plan and I knew I did not want to work at an office so I was thinking about maybe starting a business. Acting or even the media industry were not part of the plan, nonetheless, I was suddenly roped into modeling first after which I found my way into acting.
What do you hope for your audience to take or remember from Masud Rana?
I personally watch movies so that I can be entertained and I think people will definitely be entertained by Masud Rana. I have thankfully heard back from several viewers who have watched it already and they claim to have loved the movie and that is all I can want.