Or is he really serious?
Like his film projects, his tv debut was also kept a secret till it finally came on air on Sunday at 11am. And it turned out to be exactly the same as we had told you earlier. It started with Aamir Khan’s voiceover (aha, the emotional modulation there, noticed?) talking about where we stand today. And then the chat show started where the topic was female foeticide. Case studies, tears, figures, tears, doctor, more case studies, more tears, more questions and finally a song by Swanand Kirkire and Ram Sampath overlapped with visuals of girl child, Aamir asking the kids to come sit close to him. Aha, if the last season of KBC was poverty porn, this is going one step ahead with just one mantra – we will, we will make you cry!
The set was tacky, production value made it looked like straight out of DD and graphics seemed out of CBSE school books. Who said serious issues need to look boring? Oh wait, our TA wouldn’t get it? That aside, i had two big issues with the show – First, the pitch and positioning of the show. Stand anywhere in Mumbai and you can see Aamir Khan staring into the void from one of the hoards. I am not sure why but i feel here’s our Aamir Jesus Christ. That look, that stare, the gaze, it’s all there in the stills, music videos, hoardings and the show. It’s so repulsive, so rehearsed and so bloody fake! The intention might be honest and i sincerely hope it helps in creating some awareness but one issue, one sunday, one episode – is it some kind of quick fix solution? Also, am cynical because he is the same actor who had suddenly felt about the Narmada Bachao Andolan during the promotion of Rang De Basanti and then vanished from the radar. Of course the release of RDB was just a coincidence. Blame it on my cynical mind!
My other issue is if he is really serious about endorsing social causes, why not let go your entire fees for it? Contribute to the cause and i will respect you for lifelong. There’s no harm in taking money and doing the show but i can’t digest the self-righteousness then. Doing 13 episodes for free isn’t a big deal, right? Go ahead, do it. Shut me up! Otherwise how different is it from NDTV Greenathon or IIFA Charity or such events which are organised by event management companies. Stars endorse the cause, gets paid, sponsors feel they have done their bit of corporate philanthropy and all happy. But is anyone really honest and serious? Aha, the cynical me.
But then the other point is our tv shows are pure garbage. There’s almost nothing to watch. At least this show is trying something new, it’s going to stand out. And in that process if it can serve a purpose, that’s great. Agree.
So i asked on twitter if anyone would be willing to write about the show. Posting two views on the same. First one is by Chintan Bhatt. From my previous interaction with him on twitter, i know for sure that he is a big fan of Aamir Khan.
I was not sure I was going to be able to watch Satyamev Jayate, though I had been waiting eagerly for it from weeks, because the night before which was full of drunken revelry, to celebrate the anniversary of another year of living, of yours truly, ended too late. But by some stroke of miracle, my eyes opened just to the tune of 11 am and with blurry eyes I switched on the TV. The show started and at least the format, the set, seemed nothing out of the ordinary. But as Aamir came on stage, giving a small speech, he did not sit on the sofa right away which was stationed on the middle of the stage. He slowly sat on the steps, just in front of the audience. I smiled and my hangover was gone.
He was not a superstar, or an expert, or a know it all and did not pretend to be one. He was like me, and everyone else. Surrounded by the problems, and people facing it, like we all are, and trying to understand it. Though this format, sets, was something we had seen before, this honesty and intimacy was something Indian television had not witnessed before. When he spoke of the problems, his style was not of preaching but was of self discovery, more than anything else, which let the viewers feel part of the show.
What was striking about the show for me was how all encompassing about the issue it was, or much more than anything I have seen before. Filled with facts and charts and statistics to supplement the emotional quotient and the true stories it presented, it attacked the issue right in its guts and where it hurts given the sense of denial, we as Indians have mastered to live in. The experts, the victims, their tears, the shock in the crowd, the silence that filled the room as they grasped the horror stories and the sense of disbelief on Aamir’s face, were all real and in a way reflected what so many of the viewers too felt.
A few days back I was watching Aamir’s interview on CNBC and the interviewer on being told by Aamir that he has invested 2 years into the show and has given up on the endorsements, crores of rupees he could have earned, of how his selection of show timing was termed suicidal, how to telecast the show on DD so that reaches the most commonest denominator of the population sounded impossible and unheard of, etc, she almost out of frustration asked him, which effectively was, ‘But why do you need to push yourself so much and keep such tough targets for yourself?’ And again, he smiled and shrugged.
My rage on seeing the views trying to demean him and the show on Twitter and elsewhere after watching the show, were gradually replaced by indifference of sorts. Fact which cannot be denied is that in a country obsessed with garbage in the name of entertainment and where smartness is equated with how manipulative and selfishly you can lead your life, he made the whole country talk about one of the most inhumane and disgustingly hidden practice which has become a commonality behind closed doors.
The anger towards the pointless and forced cynicism was further nullified by the thought I had of those thousands of families who would have done these heinous activities, which will be taken up in all the episodes of the show, who will now be forced to sit and think hopefully. Of all those silent voices, all those abused and assaulted, all those bullied and tortured who will now again have hope of fighting for their right to survive and live. Yes, its sounds good to say that we don’t need an Aamir Khan to tell us what is good and bad, we are too educated and intellectual for that, but as the biggest revelation of today’s episode was that education has nothing to do with goodness, intellect has nothing to do with being humane. We are living in an imperfect, corrupt and insensitive world, and we need heroes desperately, we need to face harsh true stories desperately, we need to know what being humane feels again desperately, and in this same imperfect world, this show does that. It forces the monsters in laws of the country to look in the eyes of their daughters in law, of their near and dear ones and face the truth. It makes the demonic husbands to feel ashamed and disgusted at themselves, if not from the inside, then the world in their immediate surroundings should have a collective voice to ridicule them, and this show will do that. We are living in a star obsessed country which silently breaths and breeds away from the confines of the cynicism of twitter and their likes, and that’s the nerve this show will catch, hopefully.
No, no one is claiming that this show will solve all the problems of the country. No one is that naive, but it’s worth an attempt, if it gets people to start talking. That’s all. And if that’s the minimum it can do, then be it. As the gentleman sardar who featured in today’s show with teary eyes said, – EVEN IF I CAN SAVE 1 GIRL, ITS ENOUGH. Some battles are worth fighting for, to win or lose is immaterial.
At the end, my bout of anger was gone completely when after about half hour after the show was over, the maid in my house came with a black eye and after few days of not coming to work. On coaxing by my flat mate she revealed that our husband is a drunkard and beats her in front of their two kids incessantly. From the fear of not telling anybody, she does not even scream, she takes it all on silently. And she is too scared to go to the police. Who will tell her and millions of other such stories? Will the cynics look in her eyes and crack a joke on the color of her wound? Well, you never know, they may. But this show talks about these victims, and will give countless number of them the tiniest bit of hope to fight back. By the end of the show Aamir said the biggest contribution was to be done by the youth of this country. And my rage towards the cynics was shifted to anger towards bastards like the maid’s husband, and attempts will be on to do something about it, like they have been from long. As they say there are those who say and crib, and there are those who do. Its very simple.
I remember debates with my father, who used to enjoy the so called escapist cinema which I despise. After a long heated debate, I simply used to ask him, ‘Why do we need to travel to a world unknown to find beauty and strength? Can’t we explore the same around us in our films?’ That is the biggest gift the show has given me. It has given me heroes who exist around me and us, whose beauty lies in their bravery, like all those women who were in the show today. They are the real heroes with real stories. Agreed, there may have been other shows who would do that, but for the first time I felt their bravery and strength, and that is why I thank Aamir and the channel for the show through this small insignificant post. All is not lost, yet.
And here’s the other view. This one is by someone who calls himself The Pucca Critic.
After almost a month of promotion as “Har Baat dil pe lagegi toh hi baat banegi” by Aamir Khan, Satyameva Jayate’s first episode was aired on Star Plus, DD National & also Star Pravaah (with Marathi subtitles) today at 11 a.m. Let us see kitni baat dil pe lagi!
The show started with some scenic shots and Aamir Khan blabbering about himself as an actor and a human being. And that’s what he tried to do throughout the show: I’m The Aamir Khan. I’m India’s inspiring role model. The idol of the common man. I’m here to change your life with this TV show for which I’m charging hefty sum.
No sooner did the show started, we learn that it’s kind of talk show dealing with sensitive social issues. Aamir Khan pretending to be appealing enough for the aam – junta does gigs like sitting at the stairs of the dais while delivering his speech to expect Oh-look, this-superstar-doesn’t-mind-sitting-on-the-floor reaction.
Moving over, we are introduced with 3 ladies who narrated their ghastly tales about how they were tortured after delivering a baby girl. So that’s what the topic of the day was: female foeticide & how it is related with other criminal happenings like ignorance of women in society, sexual harassment and flesh trading. Their emotions were raw. Enough to give you a gulp in the throat.
While discussing a case, crude pictures of the lady being victimized of physical assault by his husband were displayed without a blur (which is how news channels are made to show). A leading daily once made a gore picture of a bomb blast victim to the headline to which their readers irked by remarking them as selling information porn. OK. So this is how Aamir Khan wants his words to touch the hearts?
All through the interview, you can hear Aamir interrogating silly questions. “Aur kaisa feel hua aapko tab?” “Aur kya hua tha?” Genuine thoughtful questions were lacked.
And more irritating were the reactions by the audience. “Haawww” “Ohh noo..” “Ohhff” That’s how general interactions with the common audience were lacked instead they were focused for their shocks and tears as if they were expecting the public watching on TV to cry too. The flawed direction is made deliberate when a lawyer (part of the related case) interrupts midway of another interview and the interview is carried no further but diverged by the host. I don’t know how many retakes were needed to shoot this!
They also ended up with some marketing of 3G technology of a telecom network by a video conference with some bachelors of Haryana who discussed bachelorhood of Salman Khan. Don’t tell me this wasn’t rigged!
This is how the show meant-to-be inspiring ended with the uninspiring host who asks his audience to send SMS to a number if they support the cause. Do you really think sending SMSes will help?
Finally, Aamir calls up his friend and musician Ram Sampth along with Swanand Kirkire to perform a beautiful, lyrical song “O Re Chiriya.”
What we expect is some improvement in the direction of the show with retaining the raw emotions of the subject and uplifting the enthusiasm of the audience as the show ends.
P.S: If you really want to see inspiring Aamir Khan, watch Sarfarosh or Lagaan. And if you hate Aamir’s face, watch Anoop Soni on Crime Patrol. He’s terrific.
And here’s a video review to end the post on a lighter note…