Vol. 5 Num 837 Tue. October 03, 2006  

In conversation with Alfred Khokon
Delving on the less featured subjects in documentaries

Alfred Khokon is a director working with offbeat programmes on TV. He caught public attention after making Mukto Khobor, a news-based programme on children. Ke Taharey Chintey Parey, a documentary of Fakir Lalon Shah, Rabindranath Er Moner Manushand several other programmes directed by Khokon have also won plaudits.

Our cultural heritage and children's issues are his favourite themes. In Shishuder Shomoy, which ntv is currently airing to observe the World Child Rights Week, Khokon focuses on several issues such as child labour and child abuse. To quote Khokon, "We are going through a transition; the younger generation is growing up in a mixed cultural environment. Through the medium of TV, I intend to give them a sense of our rich cultural heritage."

As a matter of fact over the last few years Alfred has made programmes on our traditional music. Alfred has made two documentaries - Shurer Parampara and Bhab-baithaki, set to air during Eid on ntv.

Shurer Parampara highlights the legacy of the Khan family of Brahmanbaria. The programme covers Safdar Ali Khan and his two sons -- Ustad Alauddin Khan, Ustad Ayat Ali Khan -- and the next generation who dedicated themselves to classical music and instruments. According to Khokon, "I've tried to feature some historic moments as well as the unfamiliar facts in the programme"

In Bhab-baithaki two singers will present issues related to men and women. Khokon says, "It's neither a pala nor a kabir larai, as the singers will not improvise anything in the show. They will perform some songs of Lalon, Hason Raja and other traditional songs, dealing with relationships."

Khokon is also working on a documentary titled Kena Banshi Baye on banshi (flute) maker Hashu Fakir. Khokon says, "We see banshi everywhere. But, we don't feel the need to know the names of the banshi makers. In fact, Hara Miah and Hashu Fakir are the only two exponents of the traditional banshi. My documentary features the struggle of Hashu Fakir who lived for over a century. His Banshi is still exported to eight countries. Regardless he lived an unfortunate life."

Another of his documentary films is Aakashbari, based on urban children who miss the openness of nature. Khokon said, "It's a satire on the urban life where the children don't get to see the wide open spaces or come in contact with dirt and sand."

A documentary made by Khokon will be aired on the death anniversary of Fakir Lalon Shah. The film highlights the oppression on the Fakirs by the Jorashako Zamindar family.

Why documentary films? Khokon's response: "My aim is to make feature films. And making documentaries help gain expertise in filmmaking, which I'll need when making feature films."

A producer of ntv, Alfred Khokon is also a poet.

Alfred Khokon (inset), a scene from Rabindranath Er Moner Manush