For the first time in Kashmir’s TV history, a Srinagar based media outlet is trying to capture the essence of Ramadhan for local audiences. Syed Asma reports how team Associated Media overcame challenges to make Ahlan Ramadhan a success
The eight year old Srinagar based media centre, Associated Media, after making social, corporate films, and advertisements has taken up a project of documenting socio-cultural essence of the month of Ramadhan in Kashmir.
This year the company has come up with a sponsored television program, Ahlan Ramadhan on state run TV channel, DD Kashir, for the time slot of 30 minutes. It is the first ‘Ramadhan program’ in the history of Doordarshan, says Shabir Mujahid, Director Doordarshan. Besides, it is reportedly the first sponsored program which will be telecasted for 30 consecutive days on the channel.
Shabir adds, “We have a sponsorship scheme wherein we sell a particular time slot at a specific cost. Besides, we also encourage programs which abide by the set guidelines of Doordarshan.”
The production team of Ahlan Ramadhan have paid Rs 3.5 lakhs for their time slot.
Ahlan Ramadhan, a magazine format programme, includes different segments – Zaika Ramadhan, Zindagi Ramadhan, Samaa Ramadhan, Sihat Ramadhan.
The team has tried to offer variety which wasn’t seen before, says Tarique Bhat, Founder and CEO of Associate Media and the Executive Producer of the show.
People from all walks of life – sports, social activism, poetry, satire have been sharing their experiences of life and Ramadhan on the show.
Besides, some top-notch doctors of the Valley shared their valuable suggestions for patients suffering from ailments like Cancer, Diabetes, Gastroenterological, Psychiatric and Neurological problems viz-a-viz the month of Ramadhan.
“We asked the doctors what should the patients of these ailments do and eat during Ramadhan,” says Tarique.
The show also includes a segment wherein Chef Yaseen from the Indian Institute of Hotel Management shares some quick recipes. “Such kinds of shows are rare on our televisions. My daughter follows this segment quite regularly,” says Shabir Mujahid.
But the production team feels that the star attraction of the show is its last segment: the quiz. People especially kids have been attracted by this segment. It is live on tape segment in which questions are asked and the responses are sought through SMSes from the people.
Tarique, academically a media student, has travelled across globe and served many media agencies in and around Gulf Countries. Passionate about electronic media and broadcasting he started his own media centre.
Associated with electronic media for past 25 years now, Tarique planed many things but political turbulence of Kashmir has put an end to many industries including the industry of visual media.
Kashmir owns a single [state-run] television channel which has its own restrictions while telecasting the content.
With limited choices and opportunities in hand, Tarique since long was trying to come up with a television show for Ramadhan. “In Gulf countries, television industry commissions huge projects as the viewership during the month is increased manifolds,” says Tarique.
“I want to do the same here. Let’s see where will I reach, I have just begun.”
The team aims to document ‘exclusives’ of Kashmir from Sehr Khans to local street food to local cuisine including their preparations. They spend hours or even days to capture the real ambience, says Tarique.
He has started living up his dream through the show Ahlan Ramadhan. With only a few episodes of the program left, as the three quarters of the holy month of Ramadhan have passed, most of the content of the show is out and is well-appreciated.
“What a fabulous job by Tarique Bhat and team. The displays are wonderful, and the design complements the atmosphere the producer is trying to create beautifully,” reads one of the facebook posts on the Ahlan Ramadhan page.
Turning his dream into a reality, Ahlan Ramadhan is taking toll on the pockets of the media centre. The production costs is almost 25 lakhs for the 30 minute program telecasted for 30 days.
But the team is hopeful it will fetch them good business in future. Calling it both passion and business, Tarique says that he is planning to come up with more sponsored shows on Doordarshan.
“As long as the programs fall within the guidelines of Doordarshan, the teams are most welcome,” says Shabir Mujahid.
Apart from huge monitoring costs, the eighteen member production team is on toes since the program started. It was a tiring month for them, they say.
It seems more tiring to them as they have to pitch the theme, do recce, and shoot on the same day of the telecasting. Reason being the project was approved at the last moment by Doordarshan.
Despite huge production costs and less returns so far, the team is hopeful that their efforts will be appreciated by the viewers.