Hanif Sanket. File photo
Hanif Sanket, the host and director for the most popular TV show 'ITYADI' is well-known both at home and abroad. 'ITYADI' airs only on BTV & BTV World.
According to a BBC survey in 2011, BTV had a 58 percent viewership of the audience and 'ITYADI' had 75 percent popularity. ITYADI always secures the top position in the TRP ratings.
French and German TV 'ARTE' made a documentary on Hanif Sanket and 'ITYADI' in their popular series ''Every TV in the World". They selected 'ITYADI' because of its- acceptance by a large number of audience, role in social welfare, popularity as the longest running program along with educative and informative features.
'ITYADI' has been featured in CNN (three times) and Guinness Book of World Records! Apart from this, Hanif Sanket has been writing and directing TV plays, writing books and columns for newspapers on current issues and delivering motivational speeches in different social organizations.
Dhaka based journalist Tarique Choyon recently caught up with the proud recipient of Ekushey Padak and Paribesh Padak on October 16 at Fagun Audio Vision:
Tarique Choyon: 'ITYADI' is the most popular TV show in Bangladesh. How do you explain the popularity of 'ITYADI'?
Hanif Sanket: Since its inception, I have been determined not to make a stereotypical, inane show, but to create a unique program. In spite of having numerous TV channels, a large number of programs, 'ITYADI' has retained its popularity, isn't it?
Tarique Choyon: What is actually your core focus for 'ITYADI'?
Hanif Sanket: The priority is on raising awareness because awareness is the key to development. As I said before, since the inception of it, we have been working to create awareness about street accidents, environment, tree plantation, waste of natural resources, reading habit and other social awareness building related issues.
Tarique Choyon: You have been shooting 'ITYADI' particularly in historical and traditional locations of this country...is there any specific reason behind it?
Hanif Sanket: We did shows at Dhaka's Nagar Bhaban, Lalbagh Kella, Ahsan Manzil, JatiyaShangsad Bhaban, Comilla's Shalbon Bihar, Tajhat Zamindar Bari, Bogra Mahastangarh, Sonargaon, Narayanganj's Sonakanda Fort, Puthhia's Zamidar Bari, Dhonbari Zamidar Bari, Nababganj Zamidar Bari, Nilphamari’s Uttara EPZ, Bank of Rupsha surrounding Khan Jahan Ali Rupsha Bridge in Khulna, Sylhet’s Lakkatura Golf Club field, Shilaidah’s Kuthibari Kushtia, Titas Gas field Brahmanbaria, Ansar-VDP Academy Safipur Gazipur, Chengi Golf & Country Club field Khagrachari, Cox’s bazar sea beach, Floating Mancha over Kirtankhola river Barisal, Maijdee Noakhali, Harding Bridge point Ishwardi Pabna, Uttara Ganavaban Natore, Baliati Jamidar Bari Manikganj etc. The reason is that through 'ITYADI', the new generation will get to know about our rich heritage.
Tarique Choyon: Sometimes you feature the significant places of abroad too! As for example, we watched Nelson Mandela’s prison in Johannesburg in South Africa at the last episode. Is it for the same reason or something different?
Hanif Sanket: Due to professional purposes or personal reasons, I travel far-flung areas of the world. Whenever I fly abroad, 'ITYADI' viewers are always on my mind. I try to explore the beauty, history, archaeology, and many other interesting facts about the places I visit. Some of them are featured in ''ITYADI''; some are highlighted in my articles for the newspapers too!
Tarique Choyon: You've visited many universities with your team throughout the country. Why is that?
Hanif Sanket: We went to many colleges and universities, including Dhaka University, Chittagong University, Rajshahi University, Comilla Victoria College, Rangpur Carmichael College. We organized quizzes among students, with the top five being chosen to appear on 'ITYADI'. This inspired them to learn more.
Tarique Choyon: You met with renowned children's rights and education advocate and activist, Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi at the Rabindra Bharati University in 2016. Kailash highly praised you for your silent contribution in nation building through 'ITYADI'. If you share some more-important points of that discussion...
Hanif Sanket: Well, we discussed and shared opinions about how to make people more aware about children's rights, how to instil more human values to them and how to involve rich people of the society in such works.
Tarique Choyon: Despite growing awareness against torture on minors, it’s not decreasing in Bangladesh remarkably. How do you consider this problem?
Hanif Sanket: I feel those who inflict torture to minors are not human. They are worse than animals. To protect and promote children's rights in our country we also need a similar movement that Kailash did in the form of 'Bachpan Bachao Andolon.'
Tarique Choyon: You once featured a differently-abled senior citizen named Rafiqul Islam and that created much stir. You featured him on 'ITYADI' and offered him Taka 2 lakh.
Hanif Sanket: Yes, That elderly individual, who had no one to take care of him, visited 39 districts on his wheelchair. He set up a store -- 'Jibon Shongram Store' -- selling candy, cookies and chanachur to kids. He could only afford to eat two cookies during the day and a plate of rice at night.
Tarique Choyon: Can you remember other similar stories?
Hanif Sanket: Yes. We featured a non-Bangladeshi doctor. The local villagers call him “Doctor bhai”. His dream was that another Bangladeshi would take up the charge of the hospital he had established. Another story that we did was on a school built by 17 workers in Modhupur. The group of labourers toiled to collect the funds for constructing the school. They then gave up their own living space to start classes -- which eventually encouraged people of the village to give up some land for setting up the school. They are in fact the greatest people of our country.
Tarique Choyon: You featured the environmentalist Gowhor Ali who planted over 18,000 trees who later received the first Paribesh Padak in 2009. You also featured pioneer of the book reading movement Polan Sarker, who later received the Ekushey Padak in 2011. You also featured Halim (age 22) who was enlisted three times in Guinness World Records! Similarly, you introduced numerous models, actors, singers too who later become popular in their particular areas. The best example is the most popular hero till date in Bangladesh late Salman Shah, who first appeared in TV as a model of a music video in 'ITYADI'. Another great example is singer Mamtaj who was first introduced in 'ITYADI' too….
Hanif Sanket: Yes, Salman’s name was Imon then. His mother Nila Chowdhury also acted in the music video.
Tarique Choyon: Two Bangladeshi Everest conquerors Nishat Mazumder and MA Muhit were also in 'ITYADI' before conquering. You offered any sort of support if they need on the way of their journey. How did you feel when you heard the news of their achievement?
Hanif Sanket: Like all Bangladeshis, I always feel proud of them. Another thing that made me proud- they showed the logo of 'ITYADI' on the peak of the Everest!
Tarique Choyon: Considering all of these what would you think your biggest achievement in 'ITYADI'?
Hanif Sanket: The greatest reward is the love of the audience. I have a sense of responsibility, so I try heart and soul to be conscious and to entertain them. Their well wishes keep me going and I want to contribute more to the country.
Tarique Choyon: Composer & music director Ali Akbar Rupu was a very known name in 'ITYADI', died on 22 February. How do you miss him?
Hanif Sanket: He was a very talented music director of Bangladesh. A very good person too. Very close to me. He had a relationship with 'ITYADI' for long 30 years, my lifelong friend. A family member of 'ITYADI'. He is the composer of maximum songs of 'ITYADI'. His departure is a big loss for our music industry. Rest in peace!
Tarique Choyon: You have directed plays and gained popularity along the way. But why aren't you regular in that field? If you could share one of your memorable experiences regarding this….
Hanif Sanket: I believe in doing quality dramas. So I have directed only two dramas for Eid. We put in a lot of practice before shooting so it takes time.
BTV once called on me and Humayun Ahmed, asking us to switch roles: for me to produce a drama and Ahmed to produce a program. He went on to produce a program named “Ronger Baroi” while I directed “Kusum Kusum Bhalobasha”.
Tarique Choyon: Recently a Bangladeshi originated girl Anwara from Netherlands found her lost family after 'ITYADI' broadcasting a feature on her story in 30th March. How do you feel it?
Hanif Sanket: I am so much happy. It’s another success of 'ITYADI'.
Tarique Choyon: Why are the TV programs of Bangladesh losing their appeal? Why do the spectators prefer the Indian shows?
Hanif Sanket: If you don’t make quality programs they will prefer the better obviously. When 'ITYADI' is telecasting no one is watching Indian shows, everyone is watching it! Our programs are not telecasting in India, but we are telecasting those. I wonder even our TV owner’s association don’t speak a single word against it!
Tarique Choyon: “Youth Conference 2018: Agenda 2030-Aspirations of the Youth” held on 14 October, organized by Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh. More than 1500 youths from across all class, sex, religion, and profession spread over the whole country participated in it. As ‘Special media personnel’ you were present there as a speaker along with other distinguished personalities. The audience enjoyed and applauded your speech. What was your main focus point?
Hanif Sanket: Our young generation have to talk appropriate words in appropriate situation with due courage and integrity. Even they should maintain this rule in their concerned workplaces. Apart from this, they must enlighten themselves by following the principles of ethics and morality. If they participate in social reformation by forgetting personal interests, then we will easily achieve the much awaited SDGs.
Tarique Choyon: What is your future plan?
Hanif Sanket: I don't really spend a lot of time planning for the future. Future is uncertain, my concern is the present.
Tarique Choyon: Thank you so much for the wonderful work that you are doing and we want you to continue doing so because I think that through your work you will make a difference!
Hanif Sanket: Thank you too!