Like you, Kanta is also bored at home. One fine day, she decides to watch television, although she has a number of shows on Netflix and piles of books left unread.
After a small fight with her father, Kanta grabbed the TV remote, changed the news channel and hit a Bangladeshi channel. There she found Riaz dancing with a girl with a weakness for lungi. In the scene, Riaz was wearing a lungi and the girl was admiring him for that.
Kanta is not interested in that lungi-clad guy. So she changes the channel and hops onto another one. For the next few minutes, she carefully skipped several channels broadcasting Coronavirus updates and breaking news. Kanta was simply looking for some enjoyment amid the shutdown, not a shortcut way to panic.
After another round of flipping channels, Kanta realises Dipjol is pretty famous among the masses as his cinemas were frequently being broadcast on different TV channels since morning. Sitting in front of the TV with the remote in her hand, Kanta focuses on trying to figure out why Dipjol's movies are famous and what makes them so popular.
The prime elements, Kanta learns is, are offensive language, few absurd fighting scenes that neither follow physics nor biology, and an array of songs with bizarre lyrics.
But suddenly, Ghambabu, a drama on Deepto TV, grabs her attention. The show's narrative revolves around the story of Babu, who sweats all day and hence is called Ghambabu.
Ghambabu sprinkles sweat on everyone, yet, unlike many, he has a job. His office desk, bag, and personal computer are covered with polythene. Ghambabu's character leaves the viewers wondering about his skills. According to his boss, he is very efficient and that is why he is allowed to attend office wearing a sando-genji.
Wherever Ghambabu goes, he carries three or four mini fans along with him. Kanta eagerly watches the show and his weird activities. She is overly curious to know how the show is going to end.
But just like a Rajinikanth movie – without any logic – Ghambabu stops sweating and lives happily ever after with his partner, who chooses him over a well-established guy.
The only relief she finds while watching the show is not to be disrupted by hoards of advertisement. But she is still left bewildered with why TV channels are telecasting programs of men clad in lungi and sando-ganji.
Many viewers, like Kanta, are also wondering about such shows and pointing fingers at the programs' quality. When TV channels are supposed to entertain viewers with their best programs, why are they telecasting such shows? How are channels selecting content for repeat telecasts? Why are there so many programs on coronavirus?
Pavel Islam, senior executive program officer of NTV, explained, "The program schedule has not been changed much during the shutdown. The only difference is that telecasts of current programs have stopped and we are running them from the beginning again. As there are not many advertisements, we are telecasting reruns of music, dance and Islamic shows."
Content for repeat telecasts are selected on the basis of popularity and the popularity is defined by the number of YouTube views.
A garment worker, Sabbir Sardar, said that he searches for dramas online with the name of his favourite artist, Mosharraf Karim, as keyword. After he watches a selected drama, the next one is auto played and that is how he has watched dramas of Mir Sabbir, Mehazabien Chowdhury, AKM Hasan and many others.
TV channels know that the popularity of a show does not guarantee its quality. Some channels are offering quality programs amid this grim situation. Bangladesh Television (BTV) has started retelecasting classic dramas like Bohubrihi, Ei Shob Din Ratri and Kothao Keu Nei but very few people know about this due to the lack of promotion.
Hence, on the Television Rating Point (TRP) these dramas do not occupy any position. Neither does Bangladesh has any policies regarding this, nor any certified organization to measure the TRP. One company, MRB Bangladesh, measures the TRP but its measuring system has been questioned by a few channel's program officers.
"However, nothing can justify their content and viewers' sufferings amid this shutdown. Instead of being entertained, we are getting awful and absurd shows to watch," said Rahela Khatun, a homemaker.
"A Bengali cartoon channel called Duronto TV and few other news channels are channels we watch regularly. Why does every TV channel have to telecast the same kind of programs? Look at foreign TV channels. They are telecasting older shows without any turbulence and those are also enjoyable and entertaining for the viewers."