The cultural aggression so passionately decried by this scribe through the years has now begun to hurt beyond the sensitivities. All on a sudden, the threat to livelihood for actors, producers and script writers has dawned. Strangely though, it seems to be a specific and, sadly, religious connotation that is the target of ire.
Whereas culture is to be the soft but essential underbelly of a society, the argumentation against a particular television serial dubbed in Bangla has become the target of all that shouldn't be. Commercial television is all about dishing out that demanded by the viewers, a commodity that sells well enough to attract advertising revenue.
Processes such as Total Recall Perception (TRP), while woefully inadequate and incorrect, are the main tools of gauging viewer preference. But even when such processes say that a certain programme or broadcast is attracting viewers, what could all the ire be about?
Dipto, the channel airing the serial under controversy, is to be banned as per the artistes demands amid a sinister claim that it is spreading 'wrong values'. But there's total silence over the values (or lack of it) that the Bangladeshis are being bombarded with from India. Almost every soap broadcast bases on family intrigue, Hinduism and its values and relationships that do exist but can hardly be the fare to be gobbled up by our women, children and even domestic aides. And one can hardly be convinced that the wrong references to Islam and its way of life are done so by mistake. It doesn't draw protests from any quarter.
During the early eighties there was outcry in India when a young school student named our President of the time, in answer to a question as to who was the President of India. Such was the effect of our TV being broadcast and received in neighbouring territories.
How times have changed! Our offsprings are now more conversant in Hindi than Bangla thanks to the unfettered availability of Indian satellite TV channels whereas ours are simply blocked.
The logic is paranoid, to say the least. Inappropriate TV advertisements (read tobacco advertising) was the reason. It doesn't matter that such advertising is banned. Nor does it matter that surrogate advertising curiously allowed in India, extols brands known well for alcohol and beams it to us, a society where alcohol is for all practical purposes prohibited.
A short while back private television channel owners demanded that Bangladesh companies advertising in Indian channels be reined in. That is both daft and in stark conflict. Indian products sold in our country are promoted heavily utilising anything from Bollywood stars to the Indian way of life. It defies logic as to how a similar strategy of our exporters can't or shouldn't be allowed. Laughably, the finger is pointed at the same serials that are waited for by, especially, the womenfolk and which show nothing whatsoever of our culture.
The issue skirted carelessly, carefully - almost disdainfully - is that most of our creative outputs simply do not meet viewer expectations, hence lower TRPs and consequentially advertising interests. Quality matters and it's no different with TV programming. Acting, camera work, sound, sets, dialogue and screenplay all play a part in the experience that is viewing.
Protests for a cause will gain sympathy, those without won't. Addressing the cause rather than symptoms might work, only just.