Continued from Vol 01 Issue 09
It was not easy with only two cameras to record program announcement, live shows and news. Right after the program announcement, cameras had to be relocated towards the studio set. It is quite hard to imagine how thick camera cables were back in those days.
There was no room to keep the spotlights installed in the DIT building. In 1964; on the second day of telecast, a dance music program performed by Chayanaut was telecasted. Directed by Monirul Islam, the program featured performers such as Sanjida Khatun and Zahedur Rahim. Who could have thought that a dance music program could be hosted from such a small studio? Everyone on set worked in collaboration to help Monirul Islam and he managed to surpass everyone’s expectations.
There are many other examples of such dedication that went into the making of early Television programs. There were very few TV sets and Television could only be watched within a ten kilometer radius of DIT. Still, all artists and technicians gave their best to avoid making any mistakes. Nowadays, there are several TV channels with a bigger crew and high-end equipments on set, yet mistakes occur.
During one show, Zahedur Rahim was performing Rabindra Sangeet live, seated on a wooden stool; from the control room the Director asked the cameraman to get close-up footage of the singer. Unfortunately, the cameraman didn’t have any zoom lens. But orders of the Director had to be followed. So, the cameraman slowly moved the camera tripod closer to the singer. He took it so close that the heavy wheels of the tripod rolled over and landed on Zahedur Rahim’s toe. His toe started bleeding, but he didn’t stop singing for a second. Looking at the unflinching face of the artist, no one could tell what the singer was going through. Everyone’s dedication, honesty and hard work made Dhaka Television so popular in a short span of time.
Test transmission of Dhaka Television was conducted for the first ninety days. All the TV officials were determined to do whatever it takes to ensure the success of this new medium. There were many officials who didn’t hesitate to switch to Dhaka Television from other renowned organizations. After ninety days of test transmission, on 25th March 1964, viewers watched on screen: Pakistan Television Services, which later became Bangladesh Television.
There were no TV manufacturers in Bangladesh back then. Television sets were huge in size; came inside a wooden frame, standing on four wooden legs; NEC Japan imported only a few TV sets in Bangladesh. At the bottom of the screen was the speaker, the price of these television sets was Tk. 850 each but they were sold in open market. One had to acquire a special permit to buy a set. But now, markets are filled with TV sets. TV can be watched even on mobile phones.
At the beginning, programs were telecasted for only six days a week from 6pm – 9pm. The TV station took Sundays off. There was only one studio; therefore they could air one studio-show with one local and foreign film. The studio was the only room that could be facilitated with air conditioning; rest of the rooms had no such facilities. In an interview with renowned news-reader Shamim Ahmed, talks about an incident when the viewers once heard a strange noise on TV during his news broadcast. He was convinced that it was just a mouse or a rat; the next day he checked everywhere but couldn’t find anything. Later on, it was discovered that the sound was coming from him banging his knees together.
For the first time on 25th December 1964, a foreign film followed by a song performed by Ferdausi Rahman was aired. The cameraman was Rafiqul Bari Chowdhury and Monirul Alam was the Director. That was the first time the viewers witnessed a musical program.
The audience demographics have changed over the years and so have their preferences. Bangladeshis now have access to hundreds of TV channels. This story is about those people who carved the path to get to those hundred channels from just one.
To be continued…
The writer is Managing Director of Channel i
Translated by Zia Nazmul Islam