Tarek Akhand is the Head-of-Program at Banglavision. Recently, the channel has planned to launch the second season of their popular daily serial 'Gulshan Avenue'.
It has been a decade since the first season ended. Alongside this, another new serial casting Mosharraf Karim will be broadcast soon.
In a recent interview with The Business Standard, Tarek spoke about the new shows and shared his views on the future of TV channels during the wake of OTT platforms.
The Business Standard (TBS): Banglavision is starting two new daily shows. Tell us a bit about them.
Tarek Akhand: It has been an era since the famous daily show 'Gulshan Avenue' was aired. A decade has passed since it ended but people still talk about this show. That is why we were thinking about running a new season for this show.
'Gulshan Avenue season 2' is coming soon. Like the earlier season, Nima Rahman has written and directed the show. Famous actor Tariq Anam Khan is also working as executive producer and guest director.
You can say, the audience always wants a new season of a successful project. Gulshan Avenue is probably the longest-running show in Bangladesh with more than 1,500 episodes. This series was a game changer for TV serials. The plot will be different this time but the format will remain the same. We tried to draw the story with relevance to our reality.
We have already started shooting in a Gulshan apartment and 100 episodes have already been shot. Actors of two generations - Tanvin Sweety, Deepa Khandakar, Chumki, Tariq Anam Khan, Junayed Boghdadi and Mim have graced the show. I'd like to thank Banglavision's Chairman Abdul Haque and Director of Management AKM Anwarazzaman for the show.
Is it a big budget show?
Indeed. It took a lot of planning and time. I hope the previous viewers of Gulshan Avenue and other regular TV viewers will like it. It will be broadcast four to five days a week. It will be a long series.
Isn't Banglavision planning another serial?
Well, Banglavision broadcasts new serials every year. It is an ongoing process. We are preparing Shams Kabir's new serial 'Bou Dour'. Mosharraf Karim is playing the lead character.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been around for almost two years. What crisis did the television channels, especially Banglavision, face during this time?
The whole world was in crisis. Our case was not any different. We have tried hard to run all the shows. We have telecasted new shows during Eid and other festivals. Banglavision's authority has been very kind in overcoming the crisis. But we have suffered financial loss. That is why we are planning new shows to make up for the loss.
Over-the-top (OTT) is now a popular entertainment medium for viewers around the world. It has gained popularity among Bangladeshi viewers as well. How do you view it?
I welcome every entertainment medium. If it creates new viewers, it is actually good for us. How many television channels were there in Bangladesh about 20 to 30 years ago and how many are now? Has it caused any problems? There was a time when there was only one TV in a house but the scenario has changed drastically.
People watch this or that on every channel. OTT platforms and new TV channels have drawn in more viewers. The increase of platforms means an increase in audience. But I must add that Bangladeshi viewers are not yet used to with subscription-based OTT platforms. It may take time to reach the masses.
Do you think that this will put TV channels at risk?
See, business models change over time. Haven't TV channels changed their content from what they used to make 20 years ago? Everyone has to change to stay in the race.
We have created digital platforms. We are also thinking about OTT. We believe that there are still a lot of viewers in this country who like to watch TV. And if you observe at a global scale, you will see that no TV channel has been shut down due to OTT. Countries that are far ahead of us have not stopped watching TV. They are still producing quality content.
It is often said that the standard of TV content is not the same as before? What are your remarks on this?
It is actually a matter of perspective. There was a time when festivals would be completed with only seven package dramas. If you remember, during BTV days, two out of three shows and an episode of 'Anandamela' were enough for the audiences. Sufficient time and dedication always ensured quality content. But things are flowing in the opposite direction now. Channels are producing a lot of dramas.
Honestly, there is a lot of great work going on. Apparently, below the standard fictions are also being made. These bad projects sweep the good ones underneath the rug.
For a show, actors should be casted according to the character. But we often hear this complaint that the channel manager selects the artists. Production teams are often told to make shows with specific actors. Even the channel specifies the budget. What's your take on this?
This allegation is not entirely false. However, you will not see Banglavision practicing it often. Sometimes a specific brand sponsors a show and in such cases, there are certain requirements from the brand.
Channels also prefer certain actors for a specific genre. But we cannot call it forced. It's an opinion and giving options is not a fault. Directors often wait for an actor's schedule. But as the channel authorities, we have to consider audience demand as well.
Many TV channels are leaning towards producing movies. Does Banglavision have any such plan?
We have co-produced films in the past. There are some ongoing discussions taking place. We are hopeful about announcing it soon.