In conversation with Hanif Sanket
Maintaining the quality of an entertaining variety show, that too for over two decades, is not a piece of cake. Hanif Sanket’s popular show “Ityadi” is a rare example of this feat. “Ityadi” has been a household name for Bangladeshis both at home and abroad. Sanket’s riveting persona and charismatic anchoring has made the programme hugely popular among its audience.
However, unlike most media personalities, Sanket does not like to talk too much on his or the show’s overwhelming popularity. “Many might not be aware of the fact that some of the contents of ‘Ityadi’ have been enlisted on the Guinness Book of World Records. Moreover ‘Ityadi’ has also been declared as the most popular programme on BTV in a survey conducted by the BBC World Service Trust. Actually we do not want to highlight our success; our main concern is to entertain and generate awareness in various issues among our viewers by constantly maintaining the quality of the programmes that we produce,” says the down to earth Sanket, who despite a busy schedule, was kind enough to chat with me at his own production house Fagun Audio Vision.
Sanket’s sheer intellect, flamboyance of speech and humanitarian qualities have made him an idol. He never hesitates to promote talented individuals who are scattered across the country. He is never afraid to highlight our social inconsistencies and disorders which are crippling the nation. To quote Sanket, “I have been working in the television media for the past three decades and have travelled to 40 countries. I always gather experiences from wherever I can. I have a responsibility towards my audience and that’s why I try to provide entertainment with a social message.”
About promoting new talent or people who work for a good cause, Sanket says, “If I spot talented individuals or people who are working for the betterment of the society, I try to promote their work so that they get inspired and others also take inspiration from them.”
When asked to comment on our cultural scene, Sanket starts by expressing his regret that nowadays the quantity of the programmes have increased instead of the quality, “There are some people in the media who are creating a bad impression of our culture and tradition.” Hinting at a section of present day filmmakers he says, “They are distorting our mother tongue and social values. They have no right to incorporate distorted Bengali accent in their productions to misguide the viewers. Some of the scenes and dialogues of their plays or films are simply vulgar which should never have been allowed, considering our cultural identity.”
Sanket also takes a swipe at the so-called musicians. “Some of the young musicians and singers are producing quality music but apart from them many of the contemporary composers and singers are failing to strike a definite chord with the listeners. They depend too much on instruments and synthesisers to modify their natural voices.”
Sanket is also concerned about the rising trend of “celebrity talk shows”, aired on a daily basis on most of the satellite TV channels. “The channel authorities should promote the making of quality programmes which can educate and entertain the viewers. They should encourage the producers and directors to make thought provoking programmes instead of producing the so-called celebrity talk shows which are simply wasting the precious time of the viewers as they get bored of listening to the same lines delivered by the same celebrities over and over again,” he says.
In terms of creativity and innovation it can safely be said that “Ityadi” is leading from the front. Sanket and the whole team of “Ityadi” work round the clock for the betterment of each segment of the programme. The Bangladeshi audience has seen many innovations through “Ityadi”. Sanket informs us that “Ityadi” pioneered the concept of outdoor shooting for variety shows. At that time, taking a variety show outside the auditorium was unthinkable but Sanket undertook this challenging task despite all the limitations. “Ityadi” also introduced interviews where international icons like Shah Rukh Khan, Wasim Akram and Sourav Ganguly turned up.
When it comes to innovation and creativity, Sanket believes it is a continuous process. So what is his advice for young directors and producers? Sanket responds, “Earning money should not be the only goal of a producer. If his/her production is good, then money will automatically come. But if the programmes are being made without any commitment towards the masses, just for the sake of making money, then we simply can’t expect a turnaround.”
“’Ityadi’ only counts the love and blessings of our audience as this has been our source of inspiration. We want to pay back the honour the audiences have bestowed upon us by maintaining the quality of our programmes in the days forward,” says the grateful Sanket.
Sanket says he envisions an enlightened Bangladesh where all the people would be educated and conscious of their social responsibilities. Perhaps that’s what stirred him to make “Ityadi” when he started its journey 23 years ago. Twenty-three years on and it is still going strong by not sidetracking with its commitment to viewers. Perhaps the sky is the only limit for Sanket and his brainchild “Ityadi”!
Courtesy of The Daily Star