“Beautiful Bangladesh”-a 3.5 minute video which is called as a ‘short-film’ or a ‘brief documentary’ by some, while others call it ‘advertisement’, but whichever genre you try to place it in, this will always be something that was witnessed and appreciated by millions, something that stunned even the most skeptical ones, amused the pessimistic ones and convinced the most dogmatic ones of the beauty and potential of our beloved motherland, Bangladesh. I think that none of you can disagree with me when I say that never before in the history of our nation has been a better proof of the wonders that our country consist of. The mastermind, who has made it possible along with his team of 152 members, is none other than Gazi Ahmed Shubhro.
Mr. Shubhro was kind enough to allow The Youthsparks Team a telephone interview with him, and this is what we present for our readers. Read below, and discover the secret of how the ‘School of Life’ was established, and get a sneak peek of how he passed his tests in life.
1. Why did you choose the direction of commercial ads as your occupation? Why not some other line of work?
Mr. Gazi Shubhro: Actually, I was very interested in filming. I was on a different profession before. Later, I thought of making a couple of music videos for my friends. In the process, I found that it is kind of my passion, and I enjoy it very much, and while doing it, I thought if I take it up as my full-time profession-something that I enjoy at the same time, it will be much better. While doing these, I understood that professionally, doing tv commercials are very fruitful. Business-wise, there is more money over here. Furthermore, there are many new companies who want to get themselves promoted. I thought there was a big vacuum here, and business-wise it’s good, and at the same time, I can do what I want, and besides this, I can also do music videos and filming related work.
2. If I am not mistaken, Red Dot Entertainment was formed in 2005, and it has reached the zenith of success within few years. So, how did the journey of RDE start? Did you start the career with RDE?
Mr. Gazi Shubhro: Before Red Dot, I did not do this job on a full-time basis. I used to do mostly music videos for friends, meaning, I have a couple of friends who are working in the music industry. For example: I did numerous music videos for Miles. At that time, James Bhai wanted to do some music videos. So, while doing videos for James Bhai, he proposed me that, ‘why don’t we do a proper organization…a proper business firm…a limited company?’ and that is when we thought ‘yeah, why not?’ That is how it started. Then, a long time back. Whilst working, we were doing a musical show for ATN. It was called Rock N Rhythm. Since then, Pepsi was interested to sponsor the show, and through them, we came across Asiatic, the company that handles PEPSI. So when working there, Asiatic thought whether we could do some tv commercials or not. Then, we started doing commercials for Asiatic, and moved on to other agencies as well. Currently, we are working for almost all the agencies in Bangladesh.
3. What was the very first project that RDI took up? Is it the one that you did for ATN, Rock N Rhythm?
Mr. Gazi Shubhro: Actually, as I said before, it has been five years since we opened up Red Dot, and within these five years, we have done almost 300 television commercials, more than 100 music videos, documentaries and many more. So, I can’t remember exactly what the first job was, because after Red Dot started, it was full-fledged, so I can’t exactly keep track of the ones that came earlier or the ones that came later on.
4. Let us move to Beautiful Bangladesh. Recently, you earned a wonderful achievement through your creative innovation, “Beautiful Bangladesh”. It has become a success, and is being viewed by people all over the world. What are your feelings regarding this?
Mr. Gazi Shubhro: The way we actually got the job, that was an amusing tale. Probably, this project had been given to someone else. Then from ICC and Tourism Board of Bangladesh, they thought- why not us? We were asked to give a presentation and we gave them a show reel. They watched the show reel, and they talked to the previous party, I don’t know who they are, and cancelled the deal with them. When we talked to the Minister of Tourism Ministry, the Minister said that he wanted a foreign agency to handle this task. But they had very less time, and the budget was also very low, which is why they could no manage any established foreign firm. At first, it felt bad that they could not trust us about handling the job properly. They were almost confident about the fact that since the job was not being done by a foreign firm, the work will not be up to the mark. But everything has changed after we have done the job. So, it’s good in a way, like, presently, I get mails everyday from Bangladeshis of different universities all over the world, that they are using this for their presentations or programmes, and response is tremendous.
5. How did you come up with the concept of “Beautiful Bangladesh”?
Mr. Gazi Shubhro: Actually, in the whole thing, there is another party involved as well, which is Gray Bangladesh. Gray Bangladesh has given us the idea, you may also say that they had given us the concept as well, i.e. the main thing, and it was approved by ICC and Tourism Board. But later on when the whole task came on our shoulders, we had very less time to execute it, since we had a lot of places to shoot, and for some reason, no one from Gray could participate properly. We told them many times that if they came for the shooting it would have been of great help to us, but they couldn’t do so probably for some reason or the other. So, taking the whole thing upon our shoulders we had to carry it out. It was kind of a risky job, because we were short of time, and since it was to be shown on the ICC World Cup Opening Ceremony, if someone didn’t approve of it just in case, we didn’t want to take the entire responsibility. However, Gray was missing in action during the shooting, so we didn’t have any choice but to go ahead. Nonetheless, among all these things, we only had the concept, but there wasn’t any full-fledged scripting. So we improvised it using our own ideas, we chose the locations that we liked, costumes, and everything we had to decide by ourselves. This was a project where no one could interfere, but usually many companies do so. For example, many agencies hold meetings such as PPM where we lock everything, and we cannot change anything while shooting. But we had complete freedom while doing this one, (chuckles) since there wasn’t anyone else besides us. So, that liberty was good in a way. I also felt that all the commercials we have done were for somebody else. But, this was the first time, we were doing something for ourselves, because were presenting Bangladesh, and Bangladesh is my motherland, and I would obviously portray it the way I want to see it. And I will never put up a poor image because it is my country. We tried our level best. There were like, 152 shooting crew were involved, it was a big teamwork, and everyone has given their level best for the task, and I think there was an outcome.
6. Indeed, the outcome was great. From Beautiful Bangladesh, let us move on to the show, “Ke Hote Chay Kotipoti”. How did the idea of bringing “Ke Hote Chay Kotipoti” in Bangladesh occur to you? What were the hurdles that you had to face and overcome?
Mr. Gazi Shubhro: “Ke Hote Chay Kotipoti” is a franchise show from “Who wants to be a Milionaire”, and it is the first franchise ever that has been brought in Bangladesh. No one has ever tried for a franchise before this. We were the very first one. We have three parties involved here: a UK-based company Delta Bay, and Desh TV. All three of us are mutually working on the franchise. Because it is such a popular show and as far as I know, it is broadcasted in 118 countries around the world and Bangladesh is just one of it. Till now, we only knew about “Kaun Banega Crorepati” as it is broadcasted in India, and we can watch it. But other than that, there are more 116 countries where this show is broadcasted. It is one of the top-rated shows in television, which is still rated as number 1, and this is a franchise, as I said, that belongs to Sony International. So this was a huge thing, and we pulled it off successfully. The benefit that we are gaining from this that we are learning a lot from here because while working on a show of an international level, you have to maintain a lot of things, especially when it’s a franchise. So, while maintaining these, I have understood that it’s so professional and everything is so up to the mark, at least in terms of quality. Now if we do any other shows in Bangladesh, this experience will help in improving the quality of our show.
7. Your new project, “Power of 10”, will be out very soon. Anything you would like to say about this show?
Mr. Gazi Shubhro: I don’t want to share anything at the moment since it is another venture with Delta Bay, and we are doing this on a partnership basis. You have seen “Power of 10”, known as “Dus Ka Dum” in India, hosted by Salman Khan. These are all franchise shows. When these come out, they will surely be up to the mark, but the problem in our country is that these shows are pretty big, since they are franchises, you have to pay lot of money for the license. So, after seeing the first show, if the people want us to bring more of such shows and if Bangladesh can afford it- I think it is possible, and if we get enough sponsors, then not only “Power of 10”, we can bring many other shows as well.
8. Many youngsters of today consider you as their idol and mentor and want to follow your footsteps. Any advice for them?
Mr. Gazi Shubhro: First of all, you have to enjoy what you are doing, you know. You have to have passion for it, and at the same time, you have to have a vision. If you enjoy something, it is easy to do it, and you can take it up as your profession. At the same time, you will be the gainer, because when you are enjoying it, you will give it more time, and it’s not going to be a 9 to 5 thing, it’s like you are enjoying every moment of it. If you enjoy what you are doing, then you can put more effort on it. I won’t say you have to be a perfectionist, but as long as you are enjoying it and giving it your level best, then among them even if the first task doesn’t turn out to be good enough, the others will. You can improve gradually. You can learn a lot from it, and, you shouldn’t have any regrets. I think if someone tries in this way, it is possible to accomplish what you want.
9. Sir, any message for our readers out there?
Mr. Gazi Shubhro: (Laughs a bit) It’s…I don’t know…I can say we are trying our level best to improve the work that we are doing for the country. I would say, maybe this is just the beginning. Things will get better in the future.