Future of Bangladeshi TV programmes

A veteran of Bangladeshi television, Mr. Nawazish Ali Khan has been affiliated with the production in the industry from the very beginning, throughout the golden era, playing a vital role, till date. With his ever-enthusiastic attitude, he is currently working with a private TV channel.

Showbiz arranged a discussion session with Mr. Nawazish Ali Khan along with a few other prominent names to discuss the future of Bangladeshi television. We intend to conduct a similar series of dialogues in the near future, which will include some relevant key government officials to further improve the cause to take Bangladeshi television to new heights.

What is your impression about television in Bangladesh?
In order to analyse the present state of TV it is necessary to consider the past which in turn will help us forecast the future. Earlier, I would assume the future of TV to be very much different, but now I do not see much hope. When TV was first introduced in Bangladesh roughly 52 years back, there was a jingle somewhat like “Television will educate, inform and entertain the people in a positive manner.” Unfortunately, there haven't been any meaningful programmes on education or information, until very recently. Information wise, we were not as advanced as we are now. Interestingly, what we failed at back then, we are improving now and vice versa. As for education through TV, it has, was and will be a failure. 

The first private TV channel named ATN Bangla started in 1997, which was a part of ATN World, telecasted from Thailand. The overall journey for TV in our country has not been pre-planned, thus the success rate tends to be trivial.

How can television be bigger and more influential?
Please do not take it otherwise, but how many of those who run the TV sectors are excellent students with meritorious degrees in relevant fields? Perhaps a few, probably none. I know I am not. This indicates that it is not something from which the biggest and the best can be expected. Television is run by the mediocre people; therefore teamwork is an essential factor in its success. There is still a large chunk of the population who do not have access to TV and we have failed to reach them. We just assume what the viewers' interest is, and based on that, we make the programmes, but that will not help us progress. Back in 

the 80's, BTV was so much in demand for its entertainment that residents of the neighbouring borders would often attach aluminium cookware to long bamboo poles to 'catch' our channel. It was also reported that the chief minister of that time in West Bengal had asked those involved with TV channels to visit Bangladesh and learn the art of making drama for television. It is a pity that the enthusiasm we worked with back in the day does not seem to exist nowadays.

What is the status quo of television and why?
Many might disagree, but it is not successful, perhaps because the negations weigh heavy and there might be a few inherent problems as well. It has survived so far mainly because of the utmost dedication from a handful of pioneers in the industry. During the reign of BTV, the audience were bound to watch whatever the channel provided and were quite content. But now, the long list of channels just persuades them to keep flipping from one to the next. 

Basically, money is the driving force now. Those who are dominant and rich can open up channels, with the intention to get profits. Unlike today's industry, money wasn't the driving force behind my labour, it was pure passion and I was an absolute workaholic!

One major problem we face today is the lack of quality script. After the legendary Humayun Ahmed, whose stories could be portrayed as TV dramas with much success, the concept now seems too farfetched. Another concern is with the amateur actors who cannot give 'life' to a character. There are also some directors who do not have the proper sense of the methodology their work demands. Many camera men are also unaware of the improvements that need to be made. Overall many in the industry lack the aesthetics of television. There used to be a time when we would refuse TV commercials, but the tables have turned now, because everybody is dependent on the income from them. I am also disappointed on the fact that when it comes to sports, only cricket is endorsed so extensively as though it is the national sport. Whatever happened to football or hockey? 

The only TV station I have seen to properly hire and train staff in the required manner is Ekushey TV. Unfortunately, no other channel seems to abide by that. Actually we lack the tendency to train. Despite that, there are more TV channels yet to start transmission. Even after realizing the fact that increasing the number of players in the industry will only tend to lower its value. Professionally, it is not feasible, and will in fact bring our business on its last legs.

Transcribed by Minam Haque


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