The Television presenter turned actor, Zulhaj Zubair is the first person from Bangladesh mass-media to debut in the Indian Bengali Cinema Industry. Rafa Mashiyat Zahid talks to him about his inspirations and aspirations and his rise to stardom.
A chaser of dreams that are bigger than life and a lover of great black coffee, Zulhaj Zubair is a man of many great traits. Aside from being an extremely good looking actor, he is empathetic, kind and absolutely adores his family and his audience. He is a self-proclaimed dreamer, of dreams that seem untouchable. It seemed as if he had gone into his own little world as he closes his eyes, smiles and says, “If your dreams seem achievable, you’re not dreaming big enough. Dreams should be immense and always out of touch, so that you always feel the drive, the urgency, the need to fulfill them and have them in your grasp.”
Reminiscing about his childhood, he talks about his obsession with television and how that gave birth to his love for acting. He started performing in school plays in Dhanmondi Government Boys where he finished his schooling. Not many know that he was also a debater in his school days. He laughs about the first time he stepped out of his comfort zone and into a completion, and won it to everyone’s surprise. He has also competed in debate competitions aired in BTV. He believes debating helped a lot in his career as a host and an actor because of the confidence it gave him and because it taught him how to play with words.
He completed his studies as a telecommunication engineer from NSU and has worked as an air crew and was also the Assistant Country Manager at Starwood Privilege. He says he was a corporate man through and through, till his father asked him “What do you want to do with your life?” This hit him hard. He thought about how he could get close to the people and thus started his life a presenter. He has hosted many shows till date and is currently working on four shows for Jamuna Tv – Check in JFP, Shokaler Bangladesh, Voice, Haar Na Manar Golpo. But, the dreamer in him wanted to do more, to be more. Zubair’s father loved acting and did theater. It was his father’s dream to work in cinema. He wanted to fulfil his father’s wishes of being in the big screen and was toying with the idea of working in a film. But, he felt that none of the projects coming his way were “the one”. This is when he met Aparajita Ghosh, an actress and a director, who was invited as a guest in his show. As the show ended she asked him if she ever did a movie, would he be interested in starring in it. He assured her that if the story is good then he would love to. She flew back to India and he laughed off the offer thinking it was a fluke. A year went by without any contact till she came back for another show on his show and asked the same question and got the same answer. This time around, he got a call a few days later about a script from her. He instantly connected with the character and flew down there to start working on it.
Aparajita Ghosh’s Mystic Memoir is a journey to realize our mission as human beings. Zubair plays the character Jyoti, a man with unkept hair who roams around the streets of Kolkata barefoot, wearing a Panjabi. He is the depiction of a person that resides in all of us, the person that wants to be free of all responsibilities but cannot because of worldly practicalities. Zubair says excitedly that Jyoti will reconnect the viewers to their senses, he will remind people of the little things in life that we take for granted every day because of the rush we are in all the time.
In an unknown city, with unknown people, Zubair did his absolute best to be the best version of himself because he knew he was representing Bangladesh there. Being the first actor from our mass-media to debut in an Indian film, he knew he would be setting an example and opening doors for many. This sense of responsibility kept him going and pushed him to pour everything he possibly could into this project. Zubair laughs about how nervous he felt when he started shooting the first scene of the movie, and talks about his love for the character. Like a true romantic, he gushes about walking along Ganga, and the nights under sodium bulbs.
Zulhaj Zubair is a wonderful actor, an awe-inspiring presenter and as proved by this interview, a wonderful son. His passion and responsibility towards his work is inspiring and unparalleled by many. He is the first Bangladeshi to debut in the Indian Bengali Film Industry and has opened up avenues for aspiring actors of Bangladesh that very few can dream of and even fewer can achieve. He truly is a force to be reckoned with.