Television Play was first broadcast in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) on 25 December 1964. A comedy titled Ektala O Dotala (ground floor and first floor) written by munier chowdhury and directed by Monirul Alam was telecast for the first time on 27 February 1965. Lilly Chowdhury, Ferdous Ara, Dolly Ibrahim, Khondker Rafiqul Haq and Ramendu Mazumder acted in this play. Usually, TV plays are of an hour's duration.
Initially, telecast of dramas had to face certain limitations. In the absence of VTR facilities all the programmes had to be telecast live and the scenes and stage scenery were created with limited facilities. When the VTR facility was added after quite a long time, editing of the recorded scenes continued to be difficult due to the absence of editing facilities. Outdoor shooting or recording of scenes on location was impossible at that point. Artists had to act, sitting or standing, before a set of outdoor scenes painted by artists. Later on, when Bangladesh television moved to its own building at Rampura, and facilities for rehearsal room, use of several studios, transport facilities for outdoor shooting, skilled set designers, requisite cameras and cameramen, latest technology for controlling light and sound etc were made available, the quality of TV drama improved subsequently. Nowadays no play is shown live on TV; only after necessary editing in the studio TV dramas are telecast.
TV drama is considered to be one of the most popular forms of entertainment. So regular weekly dramas, drama serials, special dramas on such occasions as Victory Day, Independence Day, Eid, Christmas, Durga Puja, the birth and death anniversaries of Rabindranath and Nazrul etc are broadcast on TV. Of the drama serials and plays broadcast, some of the popular ones were Triratna (talented three), Sakal Sandhya (morning-evening), Samay Asamay (In time and out of time), Bhabganer Shabda Shuni (Sound of breakdown), Sangsaptak (soldier vowing to win or embrace martyrdom), Ei Sab Din Ratri (These days and nights), Ayomay (made of iron), Kothao Keu Nei (no one here), Raktakarabi (a flower), Idiot, Shahjadir Kalo Nekab (princess's black veil), Ekhane Nobgar (anchor here), Suprabhat Dhaka (good-morning Dhaka), Durbin Diye Dekhun (View through telescope), Babar Kalam Kothay (Where is father's pen?), Aynay Bandhur Mukh (A friend's face on the looking glass), Ksudhita Pasan (hungry stone) etc.
The subjects of TV dramas generally deal with family and social life, language movement, the Liberation struggle and War, politics, love, social contradictions, and so on. However, the dramas that have dealt with subjects concerning family life and social degeneration have been most well-received by the audience. Quite a few of TV dramas have the Liberation War as its main subject. Those plays have depicted the atrocities and repression carried out by the occupation Pakistani army, training of the mukti bahini (freedom fighters), guerilla warfare, spirit of the war of liberation etc.
Nevertheless most dramas broadcast during the period from the 90's till today have romance as their central theme. But a number of plays stand out for their depiction or are marked for varieties of their focus on village life, ordinary people struggling life, sub-human life in city's slums, mechanical city life, conflict and struggle within low-income families, the connections between city people and rural folks, and the growing distance between them.
Of late, a few short plays aimed at educating people are being telecast. These plays concentrate on issues like planting of trees, population control, awareness of health, education, animal husbandry, pisiculture etc. These are of 10-15 minutes' duration. These plays have an important role in educating people about these aspects of national life. Those who have earned fame as producers and playwrights at different times are Zaman Ali Khan, Waliullah Fahmi, Khaleda Fahmi, Monirul Alam, Abdullah Yusuf Imam, Mostafa Monwar, Deen Mohammad, Mostafizur Rahman, Syed Siddique Hossain, Abdullah Al Mamun, Barkatullah, Mominul Haq, Noazesh Ali Khan, Atiqul Haq Chowdhury, Nasiruddin Yusuf, Mamunur Rashid, humayun ahmed, sayeed ahmed, selim al deen et al.
Among the most popular artistes are Lily Chowdhury, Syed Lutfunnessa, rawshan jamil, Mirana Zaman, Jahanara Ahmed, Ayesha Akhter, mohammad zakaria, Momtazuddin Ahmed, Abul Khair, abdullah al mamun, Ramendu Mazumder, golam mustafa, Masud Ali Khan, Zahirul Haq, Ariful Haq, Nazmul Huda Bachchu, Rini Reza, Syed Ahsan Ali (Sydney), Mita Chowdhury, Dilshad Khanam, Keya Chowdhury, Abul Hayat, Ali Zaker, Asaduzzaman Noor, Ferdousi Majumder, Keramat Mowla, Al Mansur, Jamaluddin Hossain, Sara Zaker, Pijus Bandyopadhyay, Afzal Hossain, Feroza Banu, Laki Inam, Raisul Islam Asad, Humayun Faridi, Subarna Mostafa. [Zillur Rahman John]