IdiotBox or ‘BokaBaksho’, once upon a time that was the synonym for television. Before the age of satellite television channels, there were only state-run TV which mostly aired the programs or news mainly featuring the top brass of the country. A weekly dose of drama or movie was the form of entertainment which remains talk of the town till the next show. Though the introduction of cable TV broadened the horizons and soon we see numerous TV channels mushrooming through the screen, one problem still remains at large. Entertainment for youth.
An area, which was vastly undiscovered, blanketed under the need of News and Current affairs-based programs or drama series with endless problem between the daughter-in-law and mother-in-law, young people found their way through the foreign TV series; mostly aired in channels like STAR World or ZEE Cafe. But that too was not enough. Late premiers, re-runs, odd-timings and the multiple interruptions of commercials were so vexing that the audience refuge into pirated DVD’s containing the episodes of those highly acclaimed and internationally famed TV series. Even this solution was temporary because the age of compact disks was seeing an end. Then began the services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, and an already hungry audience soon fell into their prey. At present, a good number of urban youths are subscribers of video on demand services through which, he or she can access a huge library of video contents and watch seamlessly.
Evolution is no accident. It does not happen overnight. In the course of last decade, the entertainment industry of Bangladesh has taken mostly backward steps. In terms of big screen, only a few local releases throughout the last decade could draw the attention of urban youth. The age group is about age 20 to 40, got a descent educational background; they are not falling for some dubbed Turkish serials which deal with monarchs and his countless affairs, or some cheap looking Bengali dramas which lacks story, acting…or almost everything. The prime-time slot is captured by the shows from our neighboring countries, which dictates our festive fashion. For the rest, there are News and News! What you see on one channel, 15 minutes later you will find the same footage being aired on some other channels. After thunder, comes the rain and after the News, comes the Talk Show. Political debates turning nasty and most commonly filled with vague terms.
So, no point of giving the lame excuse of patriotism in this case, people are going beyond physical borders. The leading Video on Demand Services are Netflix and Amazon Prime Video; both have earned good amount of success in India and started producing Hindi language shows for matured Indian audiences which are earning high ratings and demand for next season which is the most wanted word for the producers! For Amazon Prime, renowned director Farhan Akhter’s production Excel Entertainment (the house that brought you Dil Chahta Hain, Zindegi Na Milega Dobara and many more!) made a fantastic drama series Called ‘Inside Edge’ which dealt with a very edgy issue, match fixing in franchise cricket. Many murmuring stories were heard about the moneyball game of cricket which is Indian Premier League. ‘Inside Edge’ (IE) creates a simulacrum of such sports league, where someone called Bhaijan poses as “the famous D”, a falling cinema heroine, a captain who is struggling to keep his marriage steady, a coach who dies suddenly in a hotel and lot more. We have seen, heard, read such stories, but IE season 1, binds them together. Netflix also had their mother loads for Hindi language audience. What could be better than ‘Sacred Games’ to turn the heat on! Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddique and Radhika Apte; came straight from the silver screen to touchscreen via Netflix. Gripping story, cliffhanger end points and urge of watching the next episode at late night which will compel you to grab a cup of coffee! That is the video on demand for you, where you don’t have to wait 6 more days to know who killed who.
If you want to broaden the horizon a bit more, there is a mini-universe of marvel superheroes in the world of Netflix. The Blind Lawyer turns vigilante Daredevil, super hero for hire Jessica Jones, the Anglican version of Bruce Lee Iron Fist, the indestructible Luke Cage, they both have their separate shows. Some of the superheroes survived the audience’s clutches, some does not. So those who survived, gets a next season, those who don’t end up in a limbo. ‘Daredevil’ was the longest runner, after having 3 solo seasons and a role in Avengers version of Netflix called Defenders, may be the blind vigilante is being shelved off. Show runners confirmed that there will not be any season four of ‘Daredevil’.
Disheartened? Please don’t be, because there is a wide buffet to fill up your appetite. From the live action version of Rudyard Kipling’s classic ‘Mowgli’ to the drug barons of Columbia ‘Narcos’, you can have what you like! Aamazon Prime recently launched a web-series based on Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, the CIA analyst who is after a terrorist involved with the unrest in The Middle-East. For Indian audience, a new show called ‘Mirzapur’ was streamed recently which deals with the politics and violence of Uttar Pradesh.
For Bengali language audience, Hoi Choi is such a service. A project of SVF entertainment private limited, a leading production house in Kolkata, Hoi Choi has their signature move of sex comedy! Bypassing the censorships of broadcast and screening authorities, Hoi Choi deals with drama series which are mostly based on some bold issues like extra-marital affairs, guilty pleasures and some other stuffs!
Few Bangladeshi companies, collaborating with mobile phone operators are also in action with the video streaming business. Grameenphone have their own entity called Bioscope where they launched modern day incarnation of ‘Feluda’ which earned mixed reviews. Recently, Son of Humayun Ahmed, Nuhash Humayun worked for a video fiction tilted ‘700 Taka’ for Iflix, which is a venture of Robi. Banglalink got Banglaflix, there is another venture called BONGO BD which also has some original web series of their own. Through RabbitHole app, users on the go can watch the live telecast of cricket matches, aired on Gazi TV. During last football world cup, few apps to watch live football became very popular for people who watched the match over mobile devices. Facebook also showing some matches of Spanish la Liga for free now, but may be in future Mark Juckerberg could come out with his own streaming/watching tool as well!
With 4G internet in action and the rise of consumer classes, smart TV or mobile devices with larger screen are becoming popular and conventional cable TV is moving towards backseat in the field of entertainment. The devices are turning smart and the users are turning smarter! They are not going to wait for “see you after the break” any more.