BBC Media Action (BBCMA) Bangladesh broadcast the first series of “Ujan Ganger Naiya”, a drama series with underlying messages on the negative aspects of early marriages and underage pregnancy last year. Aired on BTV primarily targeting the rural populace of the country, the series was received exceedingly well with a whooping reach of 35 million. This year, the series is returning with messages on serious issues like maternal and neonatal health, and is showing every promise to be a treat even for the urban viewership.
Set in the coastal location of Cox's Bazar, the series is set to depict a dramatic story of family life affected by crime, love and the daily struggles of a fishing community. Written by Rafikul Islam Poltu and Shubhashish Sinha, the series is being directed by Bashar Georgis, and casts Orchita Sporshia (the only returning character from the first series), Riaz, Farhana Mili, Tariq Anam Khan, Lutfor Rahman George, Titash Zia and others. The drama has been produced with funds from the UK's Department for International Development.
As with any production by BBC, it has been done meticulously – from scriptwriting to casting to set design to shooting, everything proceeded like clockwork. This correspondent visited the shooting location last month on invitation from BBCMA to speak to the cast and crew, and was seriously impressed by the professionalism and compactness of the entire unit. For an instance, to shoot a couple of sequences of a child-birth, the production flew in Therese Scott Juppe, one of the UK's preeminent midwives and a senior technical advisor to the popular television drama in the UK, “Call the Midwife”, to bring authenticity into the scene.
Shooting of the Cox's Bazar sequences wrapped up on December 30, with only a few scenes to be completed in Dhaka. Director Bashar Georgis told The Daily Star his expectations were exceeded by a fair distance with the outcome of the entire two-month ordeal, and he was eyeing a double viewership from last series.
Despites its positives and negatives, TV is still a major source of entertainment for families, and one of the reasons the audience inclines to shows on foreign channels is the lack of good productions on local channels. With the amount of effort and close attention to detail, “Ujan Ganger Naiya” looks to stand aside, and could be well worth marking the calendar for. The series is expected to begin airing in late January.