Up Close and Personal with Shakila Matin Mridula
She is a multifaceted talent of culture. For more than a decade, she has been actively involved with freelance anchoring. Besides, she is a writer, reciter, voice artiste and women's rights activist. At a time when most of the female anchors are hugely inspired by the western influence in terms of their presentation and appearances, Mridula is a refreshing exception. She has a signature Bangladeshi stamps all over her and that can be felt through her attire and the way she talks in her shows. She works as the programme manager of PSTC (Population Services and Training Center). Despite having a busy work schedule she still finds out time for social works and raising her voice on women rights issues. In a freewheeling interview, Mridula reminisces her journey and much more. Excerpts follow:
You started your television career with BTV. Please tell us something about your early days in the media profession.
I am lucky because I grew up in an environment where everyone was involved culturally and therefore I never lacked support and inspiration from my family. My aunt Shireen Mahal Bondona is a senior programme producer of BTV. She took me to audition in BTV when I was very young. Since then there is no stopping for me. My father is a senior journalist and uncle is a senior photojournalist. My mother used to perform Nazrulsangeet as an enlisted artist of Bangladesh Betar. She is also into writing poetry and feature articles. So my foundation for writing and recitation was greatly influenced by my mother Nazneen Mahal Anzana. I was involved with the 'Kochi KacharAsor', 'Bulbul Lolitkola Academy', 'Shilpokola Academy', and 'MuktokonthoAbriti Academy' from my school days. I think I was overwhelmed from a very young age but that actually helped me get a solid foundation.
Did you ever feel nervous in front of the camera?
So far I've hosted more than a thousand shows for the BTV. Most of them were poetry or musical shows. As poetry recitation is my comfort zone, so I never felt nervous, to be honest. I do what I like most. I do not like to challenge myself into doing something that I would personally not like or feel comfortable with. Perhaps that's why I am very selective and do shows which are tailor-made for me.
What keeps you busy these days?
At present, I'm hosting the morning show 'Suprovat Bangladesh' and 'Chutir Sokaler Sangeet' for BTV. I'm also hosting NTV's popular evening show 'Shuvo Sondha'. I'm also busy with my upcoming poetry recitation album which will come out under the banner of Asheq Manzur's 3p Production. AsheqManzur has done the background music for this poetry album. In this new album, I was privileged and lucky to work with Arman Parvez Murad and Mahidul Islam. I've also recited a mini-drama script written by my husband Kownine Shourov for this album. Besides I'm also writing on women's rights and human rights issues on various dailies such as The Daily Ittefaq, Shomokal, Manobkontho, ProthomAlo, BhorerKagoj, et al on a regular basis.
You are all over the places. How do you manage time for all of these?
I'm blessed and lucky to get the support from many prominent cultural personalities of the country. To name a few: Mostofa Kamal Syed, Kazi Arif, Progga Laboni, Mostofa Monwar, Roknuzzaman Khan Dada bhai, Zia Ansari, Monoj Sen Gupta, Layla Hasan, et al have inspired me and I've learned a lot from them. My family, especially my parents, brother, aunts, uncles, husband -- everyone always keep on supporting me and they are also my big critics as well. I do not want to let them down and so I work hard in order to make them happy.
Do you have any suggestion for upcoming hosts?
I think they should not lose their uniqueness. I've been working here for more than a decade. I've never compromised with what I believe in. They should not either. In our country, some people try to portray girls who work in the media profession in a negative way. I hate such a stereotype. I would like to advise the aspiring female hosts to never care about negative comments or wrong perception from a handful of such people. With determination, hard work and confidence - the upcoming female anchors can definitely go a long way.
The writer is a freelance contributor.