“We must learn to be tolerant in accepting novelty”
Known for his modern approach in presenting stories, celebrated director Redoan Rony started out on television, before making a mark in the world of cinema with films like Chorabali (2016). He shared his views on the issues in the television industry and the prominence of web-based platforms in a candid chat with The Daily Star.
Bangladesh's television industry has been going through tough times for a while. As it turns out, more often than not, television productions do not serve a purpose, from an artistic standpoint. "Third party intervention in television channels is the main cause behind the quality detention," asserts Rony. "When I started out in the industry, there was a preview committee that assessed the content, in terms of presentation and quality. However, this practice began to fizzle out as productions were made just for marketing purposes."
On the other hand, releases on YouTube offer tough competition to the television channels. "YouTube earns profits from views. As a result, if a low-budget show earns millions of views on the platform, creators will not run after television channels to persuade them to air it," adds Rony.
In addition, the lack of knowledge and technical skills is reflected on most contemporary projects these days. While the number of productions is increasing, the depth, originality and quality of the stories on television are deteriorating. "Like any other profession, direction also needs proper schooling and training. For instance, I assisted Mostofa Sarwar Farooki for four years, before starting out as a director on my own - those four years were my schooling," shares Rony.
He further talked about the audience's growing interest in web-based platforms. "Streaming services are the 'new normal' for entertainment," shares Rony. "International platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime are trending around the world. The content on these platforms is carefully assessed and curated." The director also added that subscriptions to international platforms are on the rise because they provide high-quality content, and local platforms need to keep up their quality to compete with them.
Recently, there have been debates over the censorship of web-based content. Rony weighed in on the subject. "Restriction is not the solution," he asserts. "For the growth of our community, we have to let go of such restraints. He also shared that the industry has to go through ups and downs, to flourish. "We are going through a transitional period and we will overcome every challenge, with time," adds the director.
According to Rony, censorship will not serve streaming platforms in a positive way. "Initially, the culture of band music was also not fully accepted in our country. But today, some of our leading musicians are from bands. We must learn to be tolerant in accepting novelty."
Furthermore, several noted personalities have asserted that the mature content on web-based platforms to attract viewers is objectionable because it is hampering the traditional values of our country. Rony shared his opinions about the issue. "We all perceive things differently. What seems indecent to me may not be indecent to someone else," he says. "I also believe that our culture and traditions have reformed over time. We don't dress, talk, behave or even think like our ancestors did. I am against impropriety, but I am not against imposing restrictions, as long as there are logical reasons behind it and freedom of expression persists."