It started with the promos. Sunday, day to laze, wake up late, lounge in bed, have a cuppa. Then switch on the TV to watch the reality of India. Satyamev Jayate: Truth shall prevail. Walking near the sea, the host addressed us, telling us how he could not remove himself from this truth, how we cannot. And then we faced an audience. Yes, we faced the audience – they cried, they were moved. This was the idea. We were being judged by the standards of how a studio audience was judging, and the audience mimicked the host.
I will not take a swipe about what a superlative actor Aamir Khan is. But he is missing the reality more than anyone else. This is not Rancho of ‘3 Idiots’, who can do a techie version of Munnabhai, including the jaadoo ki jhappi, the magical embrace.
I did not watch it at 11 am on Sunday. I was not sleeping, therefore I am not his target. Some of us have other things to do. I did not watch the repeat late afternoon. At night, after the music show I catch often on weekends, he appeared again, with the wind in his hair, the sunset framing his silhouette. As you can see, I have not mentioned a word about the content. This is the problem.
The “most talked about show” is like any other reality show, even the much derided ‘Sach Ka Saamna’. The difference is that the host comes with a squeaky clean record of involvement in socially-relevant projects, never mind that all those are timed to promote his films/his ideas.
I do not grudge him the money he gets for every episode – reportedly Rs 3 crore. What I have issues over is that he assumes we are a bunch of ignorant people who do not know the truth. Every ‘discovery’ by him showed members of the audience with a set of expressions: wide-eyed, open mouthed, hands on lips, shaking head. It is clear that Mr. Khan did not know much, until his researchers ran through reams of work on the subject that exists and is read by many people, at least the ones who watched his show.
The subject was female foeticide. Three women were invited to give their personal examples of being forced to go through abortions or discard their female offspring. Two were from small towns and one a doctor from Delhi. This was to tell us that it does not only happen in the villages.
Have you not seen anything like this before? Also, the important saviours were men. He is promoting a patriarchal notion where women have to suffer, and if they brave it to give birth to female children then they have to leave home and manage on their own. There was no mention of male responsibility.
This was so disgusting, because many women do not have the means to earn. A strong message about taking the men to task, to insist on maintenance should have been made. What this programme did was to create a ‘ladies special’. The fact that the first show used a woman’s subject, knowing well that the telly-watching audience comprises largely of women, was marketing strategy.
Worse, via teleconferencing we got to see a bunch of men in their 30s in Haryana who cannot marry because of the skewed gender ratio. Instead of getting them to speak about the problem that has been created by their own, he let them talk about the lack of women and how they should get Salman Khan to be with them. Aamir said that Salman’s problem was different – he was surrounded by women and found it difficult to choose. Clearly, this man is a sexist under the garb of a women’s rights proponent. The message being that if you are a hero of sorts then women will follow you everywhere and such problems like female foeticide don’t mean a thing. As I said, he is scoring brownie points with his little huddle group.
I’d like to see him deal with other real issues that he might be more familiar with: the casting couch, promiscuity, lower pay for women in the glamour industry, extra-marital affairs, nepotism in the niche professions. Deal with your own weeds, too.
Is it fair to judge based on one show? It is. If you are talking about the ‘truth’, then don’t behave as though it is a bolt of lightning. And I dislike the idea of the sainted Aamir Khan writing a letter to stop this practice and asking us to send a SMS saying Yes or No. What the heck does this mean? What if there are a considerable number of ‘No’ responses? Will he wear purple robes and appear on the balcony to give his blessings so that the poor ignorant are washed off their sins? And if there are a majority of ‘Yes’ replies, will he take the credit for bringing about change?
Rather tellingly, he writes out ‘Satyamev Jayate’ on sand. It’s about impermanence, about being washed away by the waves.
This show is about making people cringe for a while as they watch real people reveal the burden of living lesser lives from our forced seemingly vantage unreal positions. This is the only way the host can wave his magic wand.