On Gulshan Avenue
If you're not a resident of Gulshan, Dhaka, the drama serial “Gulshan Avenue” which has just completed its 60th episode on Banglavision, will give you a pretty bad idea of what Gulshan-ites are like. Drugs and extra-marital affairs among the younger generation, superstitions of the old, and typical in-law backstabbing are the basic themes of this serial surrounding a family living in Gulshan, directed by Syed Awlad.
A young bride who is almost forced to be divorced because she is seen as unlucky when her grandfather-in-law dies on her wedding day is saved at the last minute when the grandmother-in-law (Sujata) realises that her husband died due to a heart attack and not the bad luck brought upon by the new bride. Another daughter-in-law of the house, feeling threatened by the new addition to the family and fearing for her own “status” and position in the household, does everything she can to get the new bride out and break up the whole family, helped along by her own mother. A third daughter-in-law is threatened with divorce if she does not apologise to her husband's lover for insulting the latter. When she talks to her in-laws about her husband's affair, she's castigated by her mother-in-law (played by Diti) for not being able to hold on to her husband and bear him a child. The teenage daughter of the family mixes with the wrong crowd, wants to become a dubious film actress and comes home late, stoned. The father-in-law, played by Tarique Anam, is sympathetic towards the crises of his daughters-in-law but has his own problems in the form of a blackmailing woman who seems to have had a fancy for him and is now bent on destroying his family and business.
Melodramatic to the core, the theme of the serial is typical and actually stereotypical, making it seem as if this is what life in Gulshan is all about and that all women do is look nice and backstab. Add to that bad acting by obviously unseasoned actors who deck themselves up at home in fancy jewellery and make-up and effects of zooming in on each face five times in one scene to thunderous music and special background music for the evil ones (re: Komolika accompanied by'nikaaah') and you basically have an Indian drama serial gone wrong-er.
After "Shera Kantho", a music competition with something of a difference at least in terms of prizes, Channel i brings “Khudey Gaanraj”, a singing competition for the really “khudey” or young singers. While some contestants are around 10 or 11 years of age, others are barely old enough to walk and hold the microphone and are actually able to sing better than they can speak. The judges, Kumar Biswajit and Samina Chowdhury, are appropriately understanding, praising the emotion that some of the tiny tots give to their performance while asking others to ask their teachers to tell them just where to add the emotion, because they obviously don't even know what the word “abeg” or emotion means. Overwhelmed by the performances of some of the contestants, they select them for the next round even before the current round is over, filtering out at the end the contestants who have a knack for singing but who could do with some actual musical training. The talent of the youngsters in their Baul, Lalon and Shastriyo renditions is surprising and heart-warming. Some of them have voices almost as powerful as adult singers, others the power to make their audience cry at the emotion in their voices and applaud the “kaj” in various places. It's about time those with such talent and potential are discovered and appreciated early on, so that they can be cultivated into the stars of tomorrow.
The Star Desk
(R) thedailystar.net 2008