In an interview with Times of India, Bangladesh actor Ferdous Ahmed shares how he made a fool out of himself by attending an election rally in West Bengal and termed what his family went through afterwards 'harrowing'.
How did you get involved with the TMC [Trinamool Congress] campaign in Raiganj?
I was not involved with the campaign in any way. A producer friend of mine lives in Raiganj. Every time he is in Dhaka, we meet up and I try to catch up with him whenever I’m in Bengal. Three years back, I did a film with him called Chhere Jashna. We were supposed to have a meeting regarding the digital rights of the film. We are also planning a new film. It was April 14 and my colleagues told me about a rally on Poila Boishakh. Some of my colleagues, including Ankush and Paayel Sarkar, were there. I was told, ‘Cholo moja hobe’. In Bangladesh, Poila Boishakh is celebrated in a big way and I went there not knowing about the repercussions of my actions. It was not premeditated and wasn’t a display of loyalty towards a particular political party and no disrespect was intended. I have the utmost regard for all the political parties, leaders and the constitution of India.
So, how did you get to know?
After the rally, I went my way. I had dinner at the producer’s home and it was late in the evening when I started getting messages pointing out what had happened.
Did you personally know the TMC contestant, Kanhaiyalal Agarwal, whose rally you attended?
No, I didn’t know him at all. At a time when people are so active on social media, my picture at the rally went viral. It was all over the internet. The following day, I was returning to Kolkata and was supposed to leave for Dhaka from there. On reaching Kolkata, I realised that the issue had become very big. I left for Dhaka as per schedule.
As an artiste how difficult was it coping with the ‘blacklisted’ tag and the directive to return to Bangladesh?
I am working in Bengal for the past 20 years. I did Hotath Brishti in 1998 and immediately became a part of the film industries in Bengal and Bangladesh. I have many good friends in Bengal, have attended umpteen festivals and don’t consider India as a foreign country. India has always been my second home. Indians too have been very warm to me. Having said that, the visa I hold has a few conditions that I must abide by. Because of my foolishness, I got embroiled in this unsavoury controversy. As a Bangladeshi national, I must have known all the visa conditions.
What was it like back home?
I have mentioned that my love for the people of Bengal is endless and I was carried away by my emotions. I understand that it was perhaps wrong on my part to attend the election campaign since my intent was not to hurt people. I am a citizen of Bangladesh and it is wrong on my part to attend an election campaign in any other nation. I am unconditionally apologetic for this unintentional mistake. I do not want the relationship between two countries to be affected because of me. About being ‘blacklisted’, it is a punishment for my actions. I think time is the best healer and am hopeful that things will start looking up again.
What about the unfinished works in Bengal?
To give more time to my children, I have been taking up fewer films from Bengal over the past years. Two of my movies, Sadher Jonaki and Tui Jodi Amar Hotish, are yet to release and I am shooting for one film, Datta with Rituparna Sengupta. I have sent my apology letter to all media houses and I hope people will take into account the years I have given to the film industry. Under no circumstances should a producer lose money because of me.
What was the reaction you got from Tollywood?
The past few days were difficult and I couldn’t speak to anyone. I know my friends, Rituparna and Rachna (Banerjee), were very upset because of this incident. I was shooting with Rituparna for Datta just a day before this incident. Also my colleagues, who attended the rally, were heartbroken mentally; they were with me at all times.
You must have got a lot of calls from Bangladesh as well?
Yes, my family members, friends and well-wishers were calling up. All these years, I maintained a low profile and have never been part of any controversy. I go to Bengal, shoot, watch movies, meet friends and come back. Those who know me, also know that I am not capable of hurting anyone and did not do it deliberately. My mother, wife, siblings and children had a harrowing time and I just hope things get better soon. India is about to have its national elections. It’s the world’s largest democracy and I hope and pray that the elections take place smoothly. I am sorry for my actions and hope I will be forgiven by all and sundry.
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