An Eid special tele-fiction titled "Ghotona Shotto", starring popular actors Mehazabien Chowdhury and Afran Nisho, has sparked huge criticism for insensitively addressing children with special needs.
Directed by Rubel Hasan and released under the banner of Central Music and Video (CMV), the tele-fiction was enlisted as part of private television station Channel i’s Eid-Ul-Azha special programmes, and it was uploaded on CMV’s YouTube channel.
The tele-fiction tales the story of a couple, acted by Afran Nisho as a driver and Mehazabien Chowdhury as a housemaid, who mischievously deceive their service-takers.
Later in the tele-fiction showcases that the couple was bestowed with a child with special needs, wondering if their child’s condition is a result of their misdeeds.
After the telecast of the tele-fiction, Amrin Zaman, a mother, first addressed the issue on Sunday at a Facebook live video. A large number of audiences have since expressed their disgust on social media over the portrayed message, raising questions about the sensitivity of the makers towards the topic of children with special needs.
Members of several Facebook-based platforms including Autism Bangladesh, a public group to raise awareness and advocate for the persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndromes, Intellectual and Neurological Disabilities on behalf of the children and persons with special needs, have also expressed massive dissatisfaction and anger over the tele-fiction and its associates, with some even considering to file a case against the casts, crews and makers.
Amid the controversy, the fiction was then immediately taken down from CMV's YouTube channel. The cast and crew have also publicly apologised across social media through a joint statement, published on both the actor’s and the director’s official Facebook profiles.
“On behalf of the director, artistes and entire cast and crew, we feel deeply sorry and have complete realization as well as full support for those who have reached out to us regarding our drama production “Ghotona Shotto”. We have taken down the content the moment we received the first message. The much-needed correction is being made to the content,” the joint statement said on Sunday.
It added, “We would like to send our love, support and apologies to every parent and child with special needs and promise to make content in future that spreads the right message and directs the audience towards the right path.”