Wednesday, July 22, 2009

DD Urdu: Doordarshan's Urdu channel making its mark

Almost three years ago DD's Urdu channel was launched, however, few cable operators relayed it initially. But the channel has steadily improved in the last year or so. And now its quite visible across the country.

More importantly, the quality of programmes has gone up. Lately I have been watching the channel quite often and have developed a liking for it. Apart from some really good programmes, the channel doesn't have many advertisements and a section of viewers may find it comforting.

Also, the anchors don't scream. [DD Bharati and Parliament's channels also have less advertisements and there are several programmes on these channels that are really worth watching but these channels are also underrated.]

It also quenches the literary thirst. Today morning I tuned in and found a lady reciting the poetry of late Allama Seemab Akbarabadi's famous Nazm on Sri Krishna. Subsequently, there was a programme on Gopi Nath Aman Lakhnavi. It was presented by Farooq Argali, who is a well-known personality, and has deep understanding of literature.

The soap operas are a bit amateurish but I don't care much about them, as one can watch them on any channel ranging from Star Plus to Colors. However, DD's rich library and its records of old programmes including Mushairas gives the channel, an edge.

For years there was no Urdu channel though other important languages had dedicated channels. The reason was that Urdu is not limited to any particular region in the country. Until a decade ago, the cable operators often showed channels from Pakistan, particularly, PTV.

However, I never liked the channel because the anchors excessively use English words in Urdu. Besides, I had a serious grievance. It was about talaffuz. Just for an example: Every Urdu speaker wants Qaaf to be pronounced as Qaaf. But on Pakistani channels, Qaaf becomes Kaaf, which is irritating if you are watching an Urdu channel for the sake of watching and listening Urdu.

Then Ramoji Rao launched ETV Urdu from Hyderabad. The myth that Urdu channel can't be run in this era was shattered. The channel is now almost a decade old and has a substantial viewership in Uttar Pradesh and other parts of North India apart from AP, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

The long-standing demand of Urdu channel was met finally and DD Urdu was inaugurated. However, it wasn't seen anywhere in the first couple of years. It is visible in most cities now. Also, the programmes have improved and the reception is also better now.

Earlier, when I asked the cable operator to show DD Urdu. He would instead start showing another Islamic channel. Perhaps, he thought that Islamic channel and Urdu channel are no different things. [We do hear about BBC's upcoming Urdu channel and also Munsif group's similar project].

The best part about DD Urdu is that it not only airs programmes on literature, poetry and mushairas but also different forms of art, music, Bollywood movies, discussions, travel programmes and other facets of life without the irritating advertisement breaks. Its news capsules aren't as good yet but channel's steady growing popularity would also lead to improvement in quality of news.