• Sunday, October 26, 2014

TELEVISION OF A LIFETIME

Maati O Manush

By Faridur Reza Sagor

Continued from vol 02, issue 02

Shykh Seraj narrating for TV
Shykh Seraj narrating for TV

Since the beginning of Bangladesh television, there have been many attempts at creating developing program for the masses, with the singular objective of pleasing the viewers. However, the sad truth is that despite the effort, the general masses aren't really that interested in developing programs. The one program that has managed to break free from this notion and end up as a massive hit is “Maati O Manush”.

There have been other programs such as Rezanur Rahman's “Aayin Adalaat” and Syed Borhan Kabir's “Poriprekkhit” that were also quite the hit with the viewers. However, the way “Maati O Manush” has managed to capture people's attention from all classes, it would be considered a milestone in almost in any country's television channel.

There used to be a television show called “Amar Desh”, created by Alimuzzaman Dulu, which was focused solely on agriculture. To show the development of agriculture, they also had to broadcast a show focusing on the agricultural institutes. At times, they would highlight on a section of the program centering on the know-how of agriculturalists. On the other hand, Bangladesh Betar (BB) did not feature agronomic programs every day. These programs, irrespective of being broadcasted through BB or through the changes of governmental policies, “Amar Desh” was highly acknowledged as being the primary “agricultural-oriented” channel.

Since “Amar Desh” has entertained the audience in a way they did not expect, the producers understood that they can indeed make a program just about agriculture. The idea was very appreciated by Mostofa Kamal Syed and he informs the national broadcasting agency, headed by Saiful Bari. After a delightful discussion between Saiful Bari and Mostafa Kamal Sayed, the duo decided to rename the program to “Maati O Manush”. Hence, began the journey of “Maati O Manush”.

Shykh Seraj interviewing farmers
Shykh Seraj interviewing farmers

“Maati O Maanush” became the longest running program in Bangladesh Television history and the responsibility of producing it fell to Dewan Shiraj, Rezaul Karim Siddique and Shykh Seraj. As the show progressed, many other notable people became involved with the program. Initially, the program was split into many segments. Two such segments were presented by Shykh Seraj. He put a lot of effort in those days to understand the mindset of the viewing audience. He also planned a couple of strategies that would embed the subject matter in the viewers' minds.

While he was in the villages conversing with the local farmers and such, he decided on using easy and ordinary language they used to communicate in. He also chose to wear clothing that would insinuate that he had just walked out of the fields and straight in front of the camera. “Maati O Maanush” was aired around 6 P.M. as that was the peak time in those days.

Television Bhaban
Television Bhaban

Shykh Seraj also came up with another idea of using some of the agricultural shots as fillers for the program, which was accepted by Khaleda Fahmi, Mostafa Kamal Syed and Ali Imam and of course producer Alimuzzam Dulu. In the process of showing these fillers, Kazi's guava, Hakim Ali's fishery and gardens of rooftop concepts became very popular.

Shaikh Shiraj demonstrated how chicken or fish farms which have been set up with a small budget can turn out a handsome profit through this program.

This program slowly became a social revolution. It brought a huge impact, not just on the agricultural side, but also on other aspects of society.  During this time, the amount of letters that the television center got, 95% of those letters were addressed to one program: “Maati O Maanush”. Shykh Seraj tried his absolute best to answer all the letters that he got.

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

Published: 12:00 am Saturday, August 23, 2014

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