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It would be surprising for the audiences of ‘Ami MeenaBolchi’ [It is Meena speaking] programme at Bangladesh Betar, to know that Farzana Islam Tithi, 24, who is a Masters student at Eden Girls’ College, gives the voice of Meena, a nine-year-old animated cartoon character.
While UNICEF started the paper work of the programme as a pilot project to bring Meena live on ABC radio in July, 2012, the opportunity to become Meena came at her hand.
At that time, Farzana used to work there as a jockey of ABC radio and in that show she came to know about the audition for Meena’s voice over. She was selected almost instantly, she said reminiscing how her life as Meena started.
“Since I worked as a radio jockey, I already knew how to conduct live programmes and this experience also gave me an upper-hand,” she said.
But the challenge with ABC radio was only people of Dhaka and its outskirts could listen to the programme. To take it to a wider audience nationwide, ‘Ami MeenaBolchi’ went on air in Bangladesh Betar from April this year. One can now enjoy this programme from anywhere in the country every Friday from 10:15am to 11:20am.
Already twenty six episodes have been broadcast, which drew children’s attention from all over the country as they could interact with Meena, Raju and Mithu live.
“Everyone loved Meena from their childhood and everyone, regardless of age, watched the cartoon eagerly. I also used to watch it. May be Meena’s accent struck to my mind since then and I believe that feeling helped me in my voice over for Meena,” said FazanaTithi.
Abrar Sajid Pasha, student at Class-V in Aroni Biddaloy, gives the voice of Raju who is the younger brother of cartoon character Meena. When Abrar was in Class-I, he got the opportunity to give audition for Raju’s voice.
Interestingly, 42-year-old Kamal Ahsan Bipul, gives the vocal of Mithu, a parrot pet of Meena in the radio programme.He is a theatre, radio and television artiste. He could imitate the voice of cow, frog, tiger and other animals easily.
While sharing his experience about ‘Ami Meena Bolchi’ Bipul said, “One day a six-year-old boy came with her mother at Bangladesh Betar to meet me and I couldn’t make him believe that I do Mithu’s part.”
Though Bipul imitated Mithu’s voice, the boy started searching ‘Mithu’ in Bipul’s shirt to see if he hid Mithu under his shirt, shared Bipul.
Whenever,Bipul does give the Mithu’s voice, he feels like a bird and tries to do what birds do, when they move or spread their wings.
Inspired by the programme and Meena’s role in dealing with social issues, Shandhamaloti Poribaar Betar Shrota Shongho [Shandamaloti Radio Listeners' Club,] a group of adolescents from Mollah Para in Sunamganj instantly writes poems on the issues of every episode and later shares those with the audience.
Every Friday, they visit nearby houses in their area and gather people to create awareness about that day’s topic such as education, dowry, child marriage, sanitation,hygiene or birth registration discussed in the radio episode.
In every episode, three child guests and an expert are invited to speak on that related topic which makes the programme lively.
The most attractive part of the programme is the phone-in part where audience can talk with Meena, Raju and Mithu about various issues.
A quiz competition on each episode’s topic makes the programme more interactive. The audience send the answers within seven days and three winners are selected through lottery.
Letters that are written by children from across the country are also read out during the programme. The number of letters received by Betar show how popular the programme is among children as well as adults.
Songs related to children’s rights are aired in every episode and many children send poems to the ‘Ami Meena Bolchi’ programme and those poems are also recited.
The programme begins and ends with the favourite Meena Cartoon theme song “Ami baba mayer shoto adorer meye…..[I am the loved daughter of my father and mother…… ]‘