‘Blame it on Shah Rukh Khan’: Mujib actor Arifin Shuvoo on his impeccable Hindi, Bollywood dreams

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Arifin Shuvoo takes on the role of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in “Mujib: Building of a Nation,” which hit Indian theaters last Friday. This film is directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Shyam Benegal.


During his recent visit to Mumbai to promote the film “Mujib: The Making of a Nation,” Bangladeshi star Arifin Shuvoo, a National Award-winning actor in his home country, had the unique opportunity to collaborate with the revered Padma Bhushan director, Shyam Benegal—an opportunity many Indian actors would envy.


Arifin, at the age of 41, shared his experiences during an interview with indianexpress.com, shedding light on his journey of working with the legendary filmmaker Shyam Benegal and his deepening connection with India, along with his burgeoning aspirations in Bollywood.


Reflecting on his time in Mumbai, Arifin says, “Mumbai is like my second home now. People often mistake my name for ‘Arvind,’ and I go along with it. After spending four years with the team, the cast, and the crew, I genuinely feel at home here.”


Discussing his role in “Mujib,” he notes, “I must clarify that I haven’t acted in Mujib. There’s a distinction between pretending to be someone and actually embodying that person, a realization that came about thanks to Shyam Benegal ji. Initially, I was trying to mimic Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s gestures, even the way he held his pipe. But Mr. Benegal advised me to stop. He said, ‘You are not Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.’ He wasn’t just Bangabandhu for a brief period; he was Mujib long before that. That is the essence. This insight completely changed my approach to the character. Shyam Benegal ji told me I had to capture the soul, not just focus on getting the external aspects right. So, while people might think I acted in this film, I can honestly say I didn’t act; it just flowed naturally from within.”


Arifin reveals that Benegal made him go through auditions without offering any feedback. He recalls, “The first time I met him, I had just completed a cop film and was in great shape with six-pack abs. While everyone else was focused on my physique, Shyam ji engaged in conversation and asked if I was up for auditions. From then on, I auditioned five times—twice in India and three times in Bangladesh. The audition was the same every time, and he never provided any feedback. I was left unsure if I had been selected or not.”


When asked about his fluency in Hindi, Arifin humorously attributes it to Bollywood stars, stating, “Please blame Mr. Shah Rukh Khan and all these Bollywood stars.” He acknowledges the inevitability of watching Bollywood films due to their significant influence in Bangladesh, a country sharing a border with India, and his many North Indian and Punjabi friends.


Regarding his Bollywood aspirations, Arifin remains uncertain, saying, “I don’t know; for now, I’d say ‘fingers crossed.'” Arifin’s popularity extends to West Bengal, and he is an avid consumer of Bollywood films and Indian content on OTT platforms. He reflects, “I watch a lot of films. My father was a huge fan of Yusuf Sahab (Dilip Kumar), so Bollywood was an integral part of our household. We’d listen to old Bollywood songs on the radio and watch black-and-white films with him. I’ve seen everything from classics like ‘Sholay’ to contemporary series like ‘Paatal Lok.’ Nowadays, there’s no gap in accessing content due to technology; it’s a global village, and that makes me feel very connected to India.”

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