Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home


The 'signal-fire' dying out…or not?

Imagine being in your village home for Eid holidays, spending the auspicious day with your old relatives and cousins- eating, chatting, wandering around and enjoying the festivities thoroughly. Then night falls and in no time it's 9pm. As you yawn widely, tired after a long day, and prepare yourself for a sumptuous supper and a goodnight's sleep, something about the atmosphere suddenly seems different to you. Where's that weird buzzing noise coming from? And whatever is that rumbling of thousand footsteps? You peek outside the window, puzzled, only to witness a scene truly unique and epic in all worldly proportions. It's as if the whole village has been invited to some pompous night-ball.

You see people pouring out of every house- men, women, children, elderly- as if enchanted by some Pied Piper, their expectant faces beaming with obvious pleasure. “Where the hell are they all off to?”- You wonder, baffled out of your senses, when one of the enchanted turns your way and flashes a dazzling grin, “Ittadi dekhte jai, Ittadi. Apne jaiben na?”- and he sprints off without further ado towards the direction of the only house in the neighbourhood that has a blessed colour television set, also the destination of all his other comrades.

Yes, Ittadi and Eid. They have the same-sounding initials and, with uncanny inevitability, have become complementary counterparts of one another over the years. Eids without the delightful Ittadi nights feel like pizza without topping, biriyani without meat and noodles without ketchup (okay, too much food. Side-effects of fasting. Sigh). And, let's not forget, if the well-loved opening tune can have an enchanting effect on the general mass, the Piper in question would most certainly be the mastermind extraordinaire behind (and also in front of) the scenes of the greatest show in Bangladesh- Mr. Hanif Sanket himself.

Now all criticism aside, this man truly deserves our heartiest applause. Since its birth, Ittadi has come a long way entertaining the general people of this country. And when we say 'general' here we really mean it, because most people in Bangladesh don't have access to satellite channels. For them, television means BTV and entertainment means, other than the natoks of course, Ittadi (You want to name something else? The godforsaken news, perhaps? Or the female announcers in bridal make-up and the male wearing lip-gloss? Hell no). And for these common people Hanif Sanket has done a lot. Everybody still remembers the incident with rickshaw-puller Akbor who is now an established singer.

Almost every Ittadi episode contains humanitarian segments, which are heart-rending and inspiring at the same time, spending handsome amounts of money in supporting the featured talents. Money is also spent on touring different countries, without glimpses of which through the Ittadi camera many poor villagers may never even know of them. What set Ittadi on a different level than any other regular comedy show are these special segments. Even humour is directed in a way to promote self and social awareness. Thus we see Nana-Nati squabbling over common prejudices, disco-parodies featuring subjects like traffic-jam or price-hike and beautiful patriotic songs sung by various artists gracing almost each and every one of the episodes.

But they say even lemon will taste bitter if you squish it too much. I mean, it HAS been quite long and the handfuls of frowns have finally turned into whispers as, after wandering for some time on wings of hushed air, the deadly gossip has finally set in- “Is the Sanket-style going out of fashion after all?”

"Ei milonayotone ebong ei milonayotoner baire…just how many times have you heard those cliché welcoming lines? And clunky word-play DOES have a limit too. The style seemed cool when he first introduced it, but now it just feels plain overrated.”- says one disgruntled viewer, while another comments, “Hanif Sanket is the heart and soul of the show. He needs to reconsider his presentation style, because it's really getting boring.” “Nana-Nati are seriously losing their kicks. And Chacha-Bhatija, Mama-Bhaigna are no good either,” many complained so.

This reporter personally feels heartbroken due to the recent absence of the Bangla-dubbed-English-movie segment. But the silver lining is that these pangs of dissatisfaction are but a mere handful in number. Ittadi, in itself, is a legend in this country. A few outdated lame jokes and half-hearted execution style will not stop people from rushing before their TV sets on Eid nights or children from singing the Ittadi tune in 'Gaaner Koli' sessions…at least not yet. It is normal for people to have legendary expectations from the legends. Now it's up to the 'Signal-man' and his talented crew to pull themselves together and answer those expectant hearts hungry for good entertainment with their usual brilliance. Because 'the show must go on', and we will be waiting for a spectacular one this year too, a long awaited treat for our very special Eid holidays.

By Raisa M. Rafique

Book Review
Size doesn't matter

IT's a nice day for new beginnings. You're about to go jogging in the park for the first time, with your brand new, steaming-hot math tutor/boyfriend, and that super-cute barista is totally checking you out. Couldn't be more auspicious, right? Then Barista Boy calls you fat, you lose a lady-part during your first lap (or at least it feels that way), and as you hobble your way past the giant inflatable rat in front of the entrance to your workplace, put in place by protesters, you realise that you've lost yet another boss, this time because someone put a bullet through his head. If any of that sounds familiar to you, you've met Heather Wells.

In this conclusion to Meg Cabot's Heather Wells series, the former teen sensation-turned- resident hall director has a lot more on her plate than usual, and we're not just talking about the delicious prime ribs her ex-con father cooks up for dinner, since he's began sharing the brownstone where Heather lives with her landlord and the love of her life, Cooper Cartwright. She has to engineer a truce between the students and authorities at New York College, figure out what she'll say to her boyfriend, who looks like he's about to ask her A Serious Question, convince Cooper that he's making a huge mistake by letting her go, and oh, maybe lose a few pounds. And then her boss gets shot, and despite her resolution about not getting involved, she gets dragged right into the thick of things when a student worker gets wrongly implicated.

As plots go, this particular book doesn't really have much. It's a series of rants by Heather, who constantly succumbs to a weak willpower, and chooses to rail about the unfairness of the world, and how she's suffering, and so on. Instead of being funny, ironic and insightful in the way Helen Fielding's stories are, or even parts of the prequels are, this book just barely stops short of being annoying. Ever wonder how the utterly clueless characters of F.R.I.E.N.D.S actually managed to survive in New York? Yeah, well, the protagonist of this tale will have you wondering the same.

Nonetheless, if you can take it as what it is supposed to be, a light fluffy read, then you'll still enjoy it. The dialogue, if a little juvenile, is funny enough, and for a person as immature as Heather, she's very perceptive when it comes to the quirks and idiosyncracies of others, which is definitely a positive. With just a few days of Ramadan left, this will definitely sweeten up the countdown to iftar.

By Sabrina F Ahmad



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2009 The Daily Star