[This article was first published on March 17, 2017 in an issue of the Star Weekend Magazine of The Daily Star]
A TV commercial by a prominent telecom company was brought to my attention through a Facebook post by a journalist. The scene begins with two young men making their way through a water body on a bamboo raft in an exotic location somewhere in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Next, they are seen making their way up a mountain through a vast green landscape far from any sign of human life. One of the men expresses his frustration at not being able to find what they were looking for. The other man smiles in response and points to an old man in a bamboo hut up in the mountain.
“He is going to get you a recharge?” the first man laughs skeptically. The men seem to have run out of balance on their phones and, given their remote location in the Hills, are concerned about not being able to top-up their phones.
The second man replies that he would at least like to try his luck. He goes up to an old Jumma man sitting outside the hut and shouts at him, “Uncle, can I flexi here? Can I recharge here? Taka! Taka! Phone! I want to talk! You know, taka! Recharge!”
The man is shouting out these requests while gesturing wildly with his arms. Both are doubtful about getting a response. How would an ordinary native man in the wilderness of the Hills understand the modern Bengali language or have access to the modern phone network! The second man turns around and looks at his friend in frustration and the old man suddenly surprises everyone and responds in Bangla, “How much money do you need?”
The two men are shocked and the second man delightedly shouts back again, “A hundred taka!”
The old man keys in the amount on his phone keyboard, the second man shouts out his gratitude and extends his hand towards the old man.“You are my GP brother,” he exclaims, “Come, let’s take a selfie!”
And the commercial ends with information about the telecom company’s wide network coverage – that every other person in Bangladesh owns a phone from that company.
The telecom in question is a multi-million-dollar industry and one can safely assume that the concepts used in their TV commercials are discussed and vetted at a very high level for what they will represent about their company. So, what does this TV commercial say and represent? Read the rest of this entry »