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     Volume 7 Issue 25 | June 20, 2008 |

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TV Watch

Small Screen Endeavours

Elita Karim

A very recent introduction in the television programmes is the series of interactive programmes created for the TV audience. Programmes like Suprobhat Bangladesh on Channel 1 and Shubho Shokal on Boishakhi, these short fillers have come a long way over the years. Starting from making these 15 to 20-minute shows more interactive, even the sets and programme designs have gone through changes on several levels, namely, the colours used on set, the artistic furniture, the anchor's style of presentation and theme music. Besides the fact that they are telecast live, these programmes are made more interesting by bringing a famous face over to the studio for a chitchat session or an appeal for a person in need of financial and medial assistance.

Chitchat sessions with famous personalities make these short programmes all the more interesting

The television is the prime media through which celebrities and famous personalities get their voices across to the people sitting on the other side of the tube. Aajker Shokal, telecast every morning at 8:30 am on nTV, however, was created with a different idea. "There are so many people in the society creating a difference, but never getting their due credit," says Alfred Khokon, a producer at nTV and also the concept designer of Aajker Shokal, produced currently by Jahangir Chowdhury. According to him, the hero-figure that audiences like to envision actually exists around us and Khokon's purpose was to give them a platform on screen and hear them out for a change. Right after the inception of the channel itself, Aajker Shokal became extremely popular as one of the first television shows telecast early every morning. Audiences became acquainted with workers and traditional artists working in the grass-root level, trying to earn a living and at the same time, fighting the fast growing commercialisation of the society and the media as well. "We brought in people from all walks of life, for instance, kumars and kashas, who have been creating pots, pans and other household items with mud, clay and metals for centuries in this part of the world," explains Khokon. Featured in the Kothopkothon section of the 22-minute programme, the list of the interviewees also includes farmers, professionals in the development sector, the cultural arena and much more, in a nutshell, anyone with an opinion. "Very recently, we have had a series of pre-budget discussions and are about to have post-budget discussions as well in the Kothhopokothon section," says Khokon. He says that this way, the opinions of the general public will also be openly presented in front of the government policy makers.

Aajker Shokal is also very popular amongst viewers residing outside Bangladesh. Rezaul Karim, a computer whiz from the United States, who now currently occupies one of the top positions in Computer Security Systems, got in touch with the Aajker Shokal team and spoke about his accomplishments and the challenges that he faces working as a computer expert. Yet another Bangladeshi, Abed Chowdhury, a well-known scientist residing in Australia was also interviewed a few times. "They might not be celebrities and so-called stars as we define conventionally," says Khokon. "But these people are actually the real heroes, who go about rendering a meaningful life and support to other people around them in society. I believe they should be given a solid platform in the media as well." This programme also includes a section titled Portrait, where a famous personality, who was born or who died on the particular day, would be highlighted. "This is run for just a few seconds where we feature a short biography of personalities like Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln or other similar personalities from all over the world," explains Khokon. Yet another interesting segment of this programme is the part where the audience is informed about the various events taking place in Dhaka city for the rest of the day, namely theatre programmes, exhibitions, seminars and so on.

As soon as the clock strikes 12 noon, Ferdousi Jamil switches on to Ekusher Dupur on Etv. Taking a break from her daily chores, this 20-minute programme does a lot to relax the 40-year-old housewife's nerves. "There is a very cosy feeling about the show," she says. "The colours used on the set, the theme music and also the way the anchor presents it, everything adds up to make it very welcoming to the television viewers." Produced by Amitam Kumar Pal and Maksudul Hassan Ronny, Eksuher Dupur is a programme, which probably targets mostly the homemakers, telecast every day. Its simple yet creative set is appealing to the audience. One of the major reasons behind the show's popularity is the fact that it's a live show, which also features a 10-minute chitchat session with a popular personality. This show also updates the audience with the events to be held around the city for the rest of the day.

One of the downfalls of such programmes is that they tend to centre on the capital and do not have much to do with events happening outside Dhaka. Ferdousi, who lives in Chittagong, says that these shows should have regular updates from Chittagong, Sylhet and other places in Bangladesh since television viewers from all over the country watch the programmes regularly.

For the television audience, it's the little things that happen on screen that matter to them. Be it a simple change in the set design, a live phone call or an interactive discussion involving political and cultural figures, all the viewers look for is a way to become a part of the small screen, bringing meaning to their lives and making them aware of the world around them.

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