Friday, May 30, 2008

Kazi Jessin, Alif Alauddin and Mishu Rahman - Breaking the barriers - women in Bangladesh Media

Breaking the barriers
Young, talented, dynamic and die-hard proponents of women power, Jesin, Alif, and Mishu represent a new breed of women who are stamping on an old stereotyped template to come out with conviction and flair.

Kazi Jesin
Needless to say that, Kazi Jesin continues to be one of the most popular talk-show hosts. She stands out for her distinctive style in delivering news or for discussing issues. 'I think it has been easier for us to be a part of media, because there has been a positive change in attitudes and perceptions of society towards women talk-show hosts or news presenters,' says Jesin. Born in Gaibandha, Jesin spent most of her childhood reading books and writing short stories. After her Secondary School Certificate examinations, she came to Dhaka but continued writing as a freelancer completing BBA from East West University. In 2003, Jesin received an offer from NTV to be a news presenter. 'It was during that time that women were increasingly being accepted and I felt it was a great opportunity.' Although she did not have to face discrimination, she feels that psychological stress on women still remains an obstacle. 'In spite of the positive changes, women are still questioned. For example, if she comes home late from work, she has to prove that she was actually at work. When you are on television, you show your face on screen and prove that you were doing your work. But, what about the women behind the screen and those who are in other professions?' She feels that society is yet to be supportive about a woman's career. 'As a woman, you go through this constant mental pressure. You always know that people are making comments about your character behind your back,' she adds ruefully. According to Jesin, her greatest experience at work was hosting the talk show 'Kal Kotha' on channel-i. 'It was a rare talk show about current issues with a female anchor. I feel, that per se was a great achievement.' Jessin feels television has seen a dramatic change. More and more women are choosing the electronic media as a profession. She also feels lucky to have the support of her husband. 'My marriage has never been an obstacle to my career. It's true that I had to prove myself to my in-laws like any other girl, but my husband has always been supportive and, has rarely questioned me.'

Alif Alauddin
Born to the musical family of veteran music director, Alauddin Ali and renowned singer, Salma Sultana, Alif Alauddin has inherited both musical talents as well as good looks. But, becoming one of the prominent stars in our media industry demanded a lot of passion and hard work. Being a woman, she achieved quite a bit as a media personality and singer. She started hosting programs on TV from childhood but I guess most readers would agree that her first music video, Ishtishon er rail gari ta, in 1997, aired on BTV brought her to limelight. That was her first screen popularity and there was no looking back after that. She hosted another popular TV program, 'Me and My Song' on ATN Bangla in 1998 followed by the Benson & Hedges Star Search Contest 2000, which eventually led Ekushey TV to offer her to host the very popular musical show, Virgin Takdum Takdum. Interestingly, she never had to worry about major objections during childhood from her parents, but occasionally, they would worry if she was late. 'My parents were obviously more understanding, given their background, but they certainly made sure that I am within limits,' says the young talent and carries on, 'but it's rather funny that I do get annoyed nowadays because while shooting for a music video, most producers end up saying, Apa ektu dishtang ebong jhakanaka gaan korben neche neche - meaning they want an upbeat song with feet tapping and something more. Why cannot I perform to a slower track?' observed Alif, her annoyance giving in to a charming giggle. She strongly believes that women joining professions so far dominated by men is inevitable and, so, society needs to be more open minded and welcoming towards female creativity. She stands out today as a popular solo musician, a band artist and a singer of the band, Pentagon. On top of that Alif hosts numerous exciting shows both on and off screen and best of all, is a judge of the popular DJUICE DROCKSTARS-2. With two solo albums to her name, she is working on the third and is recording another album with Pentagon.

Mishu Rahman
A bigger percentage of today's news viewers agree that TV news quality definitely carries 80 percent of the weight but it certainly should come with good presentation and must attract viewers; understandably, the latter part carries the remaining 20 per cent. And, when top of the rank news anchors are concerned, Mishu from Channel-i stands out among the first few. As a woman she never faced much discrimination in our media establishment but she criticised the fact that women are not allowed to work longer hours even if they wanted to. 'Although this never happened to me I still experience the absurd situation where a large number of employees refuse to work under a woman senior executive,' says Mishu and carries on, 'I always believe and know for a fact that we are not less creative than men in any respect and can handle pressure situations very well.' Mishu started news casting and working for Channel-i out of passion and on a part-time basis in 1999. But soon after her graduation, it was her good managerial traits which inspired her to join Unilever as the communications manager. The trail of success continued as she was offered head of operations, Impress Audio Vision Ltd. It must be added that after she commenced at Impress Audio Vision, the quality of the produced audio albums is better than many of the competitor brands and, that has been only possible because according to Mishu, 'we believe and harvest quality than quantity.' All these significant deliveries made one point clear which she merrily added - she was in several leadership positions and that helped. 'And, to this date, one of my achievements is when I represented Bangladesh in a UN leadership summit in 2003 from the Junior Chambers Bangladesh,' Mishu said. To this date, she is working as a very popular news anchor on Channel-i.

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