The actor's TV chat show creates a sensation amongst viewers on debut. But will the euphoria sustain for the remaining episodes?
Aamir Khan cried and made others cry. But it was not a scene from one of his issue-based Bollywood movies. These were spontaneous reactions to people's issues on his first TV show, Satyamev Jayate that premiered on Indian television on May 6. Read on to know what we felt about the show...
THE FIRST FEW MINUTES
Satyamev Jayate began with Aamir walking on the beach, sharing his thoughts and literally explaining to his audience why he, an entertainer who is happy in his own world, cared about making a show that concerns every Indian. "Mujhe kya fark padta hai?" he questioned, providing the answer himself, "Lekin fark padta hai, kyunki main bhi toh issi samaj ka ek hissa hoon...." Aamir approached this in a very personal way, although it did seem a bit preachy. Having removed all doubts in people's minds about his inspiration behind the show, the actor made it clear that he did not want to blame or criticise anyone or take perpetrators to court. "Sirf hungama khada karna mera maksad nahin, meri koshish hai ki yeh soorat badalni chahiye, mere seene mein nahin toh tere seene mein hee sahi, ho kahin bhi aag, lekin aag jalni chahiye," he summed it up.
For a discerning viewer, the format seemed to be a take on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Some simply hung on with patience just to see whether Aamir could pull it off. The Bollywood star began with talking about the importance of mother dearest in our lives. While some were wondering if the episode was a Mother's Day special since it falls on May 11, it soon became clear that the topic for the first episode was female foeticide. The actor chatted with three women who had to suffer multiple abortions and/or torture for carrying a girl child. Although he was shocked and in tears upon hearing each one's story, Aamir handled each interaction with dignity and grace and did not forget to highlight the important points. He also spoke to doctors and researchers. The warmth of a fatherly Amitabh Bachchan talking to Kaun Banega Crorepati 5's contestants - most with a traumatic background - was probably missing. But then Satyamev Jayate is not a quiz show where you could just go on to the next question. This format deals with a serious issue, and tries to act towards a possible solution.
Statistics and reports were used as testimonials, and some shocking truths came out, for example:
- Female infanticide was started as a government scheme in the 1970s, during the population explosion in India.
- Killing the foetus in the womb is a Rs 2,000-3,000 crore industry in India.
- In some parts of India including Rajasthan, hordes of men are unmarried thanks to girls being killed before or at birth. As a result, young women from other states and communities are 'bought' and 'sold' either for lawful marriage, or forceful sexual intercourse by 4-5 men who have not been able to find a bride.
- It's the educated and urban classes that indulge in female infanticide more than the rural/tribal areas.
- Doctors use code words for sex determination in Gujarat - if it's a boy, they say 'Jai Shri Krishna' and if it's a girl, the words are 'Jai Mata Di'.
He might not take people to court or directly blame anyone, but Aamir boldly showed sting operation footage of doctors involved in female foeticide on his show, and also promised to write a letter to the Chief Minister of Rajasthan asking him to transfer these cases to a fast-track court. He urged people to show support by sending an SMS, (costing only Re 1 and not Rs 3 or 6 like in reality shows), or by supporting the Snehalaya Foundation. But we wonder if Aamir were to take up all the causes (that will be addressed over 13 episodes) personally and follow them up, will he have time for his film commitments? Or is this retirement planning for the 46-year-old?
It was nice to see the clippings of a poor woman, who had no qualms about having a daughter. The show ended on a touching note with a song (O ri chiriya) dedicated to the girl child, rendered by lyricist-singer Swanand Kirkire with composer Ram Sampath strumming along.
Indian families were no doubt glued to their TV sets this Sunday morning. Whether they will continue to do it for the remaining 12 episodes of Satyamev Jayate remains to be seen. But for the first episode, viewer response was so high that the Satyamev Jayate website [www.satyamevjayate.in] crashed. Twitter and Facebook also saw Aamir Khan and the show top-trending the entire day, with positive as well as negative remarks from the media, fans and renowned personalities. Websites carrying stories on the show, including BollywoodLife, got passionate comments from people with their first reactions - both by the individuals affected by the highlighted issue and the ones who simply wanted to support the cause.
Makes us wonder if Aamir Khan is bringing about a small revolution in the country. The actor denied that he aimed to do that, saying he only wanted to unite people for the causes discussed on his show. Wethinks if Satyamev Jayate happens to unite the country like Anna Hazare did last year, Aamir Khan might just bring about a revolution in small parts of the country. At least until the show is on. And we like the idea of that. But if it actually happens, will Aamir be able to handle it?
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