• Wednesday, July 23, 2014

TELEVISION OF A LIFETIME

BANGLADESH TELEVISION'S INTERNATIONAL FAME

By Faridur Reza Sagor

Continued from issue 46

Mustafa Monowar
Mustafa Monowar

History books should have the names of those who made BTV a success. Specially, those who worked behind the camera to air the most famous international movies without the help of satellite, fax or email. They had a keen eye for movies with variety and substance. The first science fiction show on BTV was 'Champion'. There was another series, 'Panic'. It had an interesting plot: a pickpocket or a mugger walked past a pedestrian. Both the mugger and the pedestrian were wearing the same outfit making people walking around them confused who the real mugger is. And the amount of time it took for the people to realize their mistake and the moments which the misunderstood protagonist had to live through was the storyline of the drama.
BTV has many examples that we could truly be proud of. Channel i produced 'Shyamol Chaya', which went to the Oscars, and ATN produced a programme which received an Emmy Award; we can be proud of these achievements. BTV produced a drama called 'Kul Nai Kinara Nai', which received international awards in an international programme in Japan. Produced by Mustafa Kamal Syed, it was the first step into international contests. The producer and the two leading characters played by Afzal Hossain and Suborna Mustafa still remember those days of glorious and historic moments.  There are many other programmes by BTV that received International awards, which are not much talked about. But also, it must be admitted that BTV started competing in international arena much later from its initiation. This is mostly because of the late emergence of recording technology. At first, news footage and outdoor shots used to be taken with a 16mm camera. For outdoor shooting and documentary making, the only medium was celluloid.  

Suborna Mustafa
Suborna Mustafa

Right after the inauguration of BTV, Bangladesh went through a massive natural disaster. Many died when cyclone hit Barisal and coastal areas. Rafiqul Bari, who was also the first cinematographer, made a documentary of the disaster. He worked hard, often half-fed, he took inhumane challenges to portray the real story of the disaster. The documentary was called 'Kalboishakhi'. It was the first documentary on BTV. Rafiqul Bari made many on-site documentaries during India-Pakistan war. Later, Mazhar Ali presented many documentaries on 'Shantal life', 'Life in Rangamati' and 'Sea people'. The titles of the documentaries give you an idea that the producer had interest on certain community or tribes.
In 1970, Monpura Island in Bhola faced a disastrous tornado named 'Gorki'. With cinematographer Mazharul Islam a documentary was produced by Mustafa Monowar. The first scene of the documentary was: on the vast waters of the sea a dead body was floating. And the very next scene was a shot of a girl dancing with a close-up of the girl's feet with Nupur (Ankle bells). Narration behind the scene was, “If this is a rhythm of a Nupur, then what to call that rhythm of water?” It was strong yet a touching scene. That scene was showed all over the world. Like nowadays, many important events are telecasted on international channels but that scene from 'Gorki' brought BTV international recognition.  
Another documentary, Lathyrism, produced by M. Hamid received an award in the West Berlin Film Festival. Many other documentaries and programmes from BTV were awarded later in different international competitions. Children programme, “Ritur Ronge Anka” and “Ka aar Kha” was showed in many TV channels around the world. For almost three decades, we received many honours through BTV.

 To be continued…
The writer is Managing Director, Channel i
Translated by Zia Nazmul Islam

Published: 12:00 am Saturday, July 12, 2014

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