Famous food vlogger Iftekhar Rafsan is making his debut on the small screen on the eve of Eid-al-Adha with Mabrur Rashid Bannah's "The Teacher", the trailer of which has already created a buzz.
Rafsan spoke with The Business Standard about his experience working on the drama in a recent conversation.
The Business Standard (TBS): What was your reaction when you got the offer for The Teacher?
Iftekhar Rafsan: Before this, I have worked in TV commercials. I ended up doing 30 to 40 TVCs and OVCs. So, when I got to do acting, it was a very interesting experience because I wasn't ready for it. Usually, for TV Commercials, we get around 10 to 15 takes for the perfect shot. But here, you will get a maximum of three shots to deliver the best. So, honestly, it was difficult for me at the beginning. But I saw it as a big opportunity. The targeted audiences are big here. A mass audience will be watching it on TV. Also, I watch a lot of shows on Netflix. So at first, I thought it was something like a budget Netflix production.
TBS: The trailer nailed it. Do you think you can relate to the character?
Rafsan: No. That's why it was the biggest challenge for me. Bannah Bhai had approached me saying, "Rafsan, this character is entirely opposite of you." You know, I speak in a mixed package of Bangla and English. But this character is from the suburbs. He is very rude and speaks Bangla fluently. So, it was challenging and that's why it is called acting.
TBS: Creating your own content and working under someone else - which one is more comfortable?
Rafsan: When you are doing a show, you are just responsible for the acting. There is always a director behind the camera to guide you. But when we are filming our own YouTube content, it's a 72-hours-long process. We have to plan the whole thing, and shoot and edit the video ourselves. So, I believe risks are less in TV shows.
TBS: In reference to the show's story, does the real Rafsan trouble his teachers as well?
Rafsan: No. Rather, my tutors used to trouble me. By the way, I was a tutor previously and all of my students loved me as a teacher.
TBS: Tell us a bit about your academic life
Rafsan: I have always been a decent student. I used to study at the last moment before exams and I never performed badly. I wanted to go to McGill University. But when I knew that I wouldn't be going abroad, I stopped prioritising education. Right now, I am studying CSE and CMN.
TBS: Do you have any interesting stories for us from the shoot?
Rafsan: It was raining cats and dogs on the first day of the shoot. We were supposed to do a cricket match sequence. But we couldn't start it till evening. We had even planned to switch to football. Finally, the rain stopped and we started our shoot. I am not good at sports. So a few days before the shoot, our YouTube team made a vlog with cricketer Taskin Ahmed. He taught me some batting skills and those skills came in handy during the act.
The whole experience was very hectic. Bannah Bhai is very patient as a director. I was not totally prepared on the first day and he helped me a lot. The last scene is very intense. In the trailer, you have seen the character getting slapped by his father. I went into my character during that scene. I was sweating and I could feel the anger.
TBS: A gamer, famous food vloggers and now an actor. Is there anything else left on the list?
Rafsan: I want to get into directing. I have a dream of becoming a chef. I love cooking. Besides, I want to launch a tech-related business. I believe you can do everything. But there is a timing for everything as well.
From creating a vlog on Project Hilsa to wrapping up 'The Teacher' by July 7, I had been shooting for around 40 long days.
TBS: From watching Eid dramas to acting yourself, don't you think it's a big step forward?
Rafsan: This is marvelous. Now, I am more excited for Eid. I haven't even watched the show yet. Honestly, it's like living the dream I had ten years ago.
TBS: What's next on the plate?
Rafsan: Something interesting. We are hopefully going international. I didn't get ample offers for dramas before. But after this, I got around nine to 10 offers. I want to act in a 'Close-Up Kache Ashar Golpo' story. I watch it every year and I love this series.
TBS: How do you feel when some unknown person on the road cheers, "Look it's Rafsan the Chotobhai!"?
Rafsan: It feels unreal. I get surprised every time. These small things are blessings and I am grateful to everyone for loving me.
Box: Rafsan's Favorites
Favorite series: Peaky Blinders and Elite
Favorite recreational place: North End Coffee Roasters
Favorite food: Tehari cooked by his mother
Favorite actor: Matthew McConaughey
Favorite musician: The Weeknd, Justin Bieber