Satyameva Jayate – first cut reaction


After almost 3.5 years I turned on my parents’ TV set today to watch Aamir Khan’s show Satyameva Jayate. I must confess upfront that i am not an Aamir fan – i find his films terribly self indulgent, I find his projected persona very tiresome & self righteous. I far preferred the fun Aamir Khan from the QSQT and Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar days. Its almost as though something has sucked away all the fun and spontaneity out of him, and left us with this pontificating figure.

Having said that, i was curious about Satyameva Jayate, especially given that industry at large was scratching its collective head at both the timing (11 am on a Sunday Morning) and the content (serious, chat show, with no embellishment. Real people, real clothes, little make up – a show that puts the real back in reality). Many I spoke to, some as late as yesterday evening, were not sure if the show will be accepted by the audience.

Today’s episodes was on the desire for a male child and the accepted, though illegal,  practise of female foeticide. It is one thing knowing the data. It is quite another hearing a woman talk about her in-laws who forced her to abort 6 foetuses because they were female. It is one thing to know about a woman being hit, it is quite another to see the scarred face in extreme close up as well as pictures that showed the face when it was all stitched up. The woman’s crime – giving birth to a girl. The show also took head on the myth that female foeticide is rife in villages. It is not. It is practised just as much amongst my neighbours as yours. Statistics show that the richer localities have fewer daughters than the poorer ones. A clip during the show revealed the prevalence of an organised cartel in Rajasthan that provided end to end service in female foeticide. But it was not just about the doom and gloom – it talked about how one DC of Navashehar in Punjab reversed the trend. Solutions are important. Problems are known but is it all beyond hope? no. and that is what is refreshing about this show.

Nothing presented in the show was new. What was new, however, was the approach. First person accounts of brutality suffered or loss endured are infinitely more powerful than experts in studios pontificating. Our journalists should take a leaf out of Aamir’s interviewing style – let the other person talk. The stories were heart breaking. Yet, the courage of these women was totally inspiring. There was nary a trace of self pity or negativity. these are women who give me hope and courage. Sometimes it takes a celebrity to drive a point home. Just as it took Amitabh Bachchan to drive home the point of giving kids polio drops.

The other thing that was very interesting was the treatment, starting with the  nature of the Set.  This is not a chrome and steel, post modern set with sharp edges. It is an old fashioned set in comfortable, non obtrusive  colours and with soft curves. Aamir is apart from the audience and yet is a part of it. The use of space and spatial distances – either by default or design – is very well done. Also interesting was the way it was shot and edited. No jerky camera movement, no ramped up shots. No extreme close ups. The technique was almost old fashioned. No jumping cameras, no racing trollys, no jimmy gibs, clean shots, clean edits… soft dissolves. a hark back to older, maybe nicer values.

This show is setting an agenda by using three things – a) Star value of Aamir Khan b) Star value of Star TV to reach an urban and semi urban household via satellite and cable, and finally c) Doordarshan for reaching households that don’t get satellite and cable. Hopefully a substantial chunk of the audience would be covered. For those of us who consume news on a regular basis most of the revelations are passe. but most of India does not consume news. At the height of the Anna movement last year, news consumption peaked at 11% of the total audience. While people may be aware that there is female foeticide in their family or neighbourhood – the stories don’t really hit home.

What is the reaction to the show? At home rapt attention. Friends of mine have liked it. many I know have spent their Sunday morning watching TV after almost a decade or so.  On twitter, a whole bunch liked the show. In fact most on my time line did. Then there were the moaners, those who wondered about the cost per 10 seconds and Aamir’s fees and the cost of production … not any issue with the show perse … am not even sure if they watched – but issues with the motivations of others.  Yet others were asking questions about Aamir’s religion and secularism . (yeah, there are those kinds as well). Reminds me a bit of the old Hans Christian Anderson Story of the Snow Queen – people who have a splinter of the mirror stuck in their heart and can only see an ugly world. But, hey it is a free country – and people are entitled to their misery and cynicism. And i am entitled to turn away from them and look at the sunshine streaming onto my face.

I am glad that Aamir Khan  has decided to produce & anchor a show like this. Am glad that the number one channel in this country has decided to move away from high pitched drama into sombre programming. I am grateful that it runs on Doordarshan. It has been a long time since Indian Broadcasting worked in the public interest – i hope that this marks the point at which the which an adoloscent industry goes towards adulthood by not just creating content aimed at titilating the lowest common denominator, but also at bringing the lowest common denominator a notch higher

And finally, Ram Sampath & Swanand Kirkire – o ri chiraya

45 Replies to “Satyameva Jayate – first cut reaction”

  1. You hv summed up very well. Hv seen lil aamir grow up in Pali Hill Where i lived for more than 25 yrs–yes young of QSQT etc the carefree-today the serious-lets hope he succeeds in raises a storm in the conscience of all to stop this madness Bless

  2. he is on the show and presenting the issue to people,I feel people should bring the change and not aamir khan.As history suggests one man can not change a thing or it does not last for long until and unless the people involved (mass) thinks the same way.

    1. sometimes that one person can be a catalyst. i agree, every individual has to make the change. but if Aamir (or whoever) helps us trigger the decency within, great

    2. I think mass will get involved after watching the true issues. Who before today knew that this started due to AIIMS useless report? Or it’s as urban problem as rurals…. So, masses will get attached *already are getting* to the movement, but every movement/revolution have a leader, Aamir can be sort of a leader to takes the lead and we all follow him by our own innovations for movement.

    3. If u hv a good leader den u can change anything…imagine Amir to b d leader in erradicating such social evils…. lets start frm ourselves…IT CAN HAPPEN !! boond boond se ghara bharta hai…. lets start…kadi se kadi jude to kataar ban jaati hai ….

  3. Aamir Khan is the reason why you, me and a million others have watched the show premiere today. If he asks for a fee to get our attention on a sunday morning, am not sure what’s so wrong with that. Cynics can go take a hike!

  4. Very nicely put. I am one of those people who never watch TV but my wife was watching and I found myself drawn in (I admit, I am an Aamir Khan fan). I hope he focusses on more of the issues that bedevil our country and it has an impact, however small.

    The chant of the right nut-jobs is getting increasingly tiresome. They may have some valid and good points, but how will they get them across if it gets lost among all the nonsense they spew out?

    1. i hope that it does some good. more importantly i hope TV starts putting out some half decent content – not just regressive crap …

  5. can someone give me the correct website to post my comments to give the much needed help that Aamir needs from me….I am smelling something fishy… (is a fictious foreign website)……the show is getting telecast at a timegap of 5 min in 2 channels….Aamir’s life is in danger….some Bollywood actors r also involved bcoz at the same time some idiotic prog are getting telecasted parally to stop ppl watching AAmir’s prog…..some media house was badly probing AAmir about this show so that the effect of the show goes down…/ he looses his temper…..If AAmir dies….or I die no prob…..Our thoughts will remain alive through Y O U

  6. I would say that this should help the society understand that the problem exists in urban areana as well. You have done a great job by summarizing everything well.
    Lastly, Politics will disappear,politicians will change,but what won’t change is the society’s decisions to fight against evils.
    Nice post!

  7. Ends justify the means. Aamir putting his weight behind this will take it much farther than it could have gone with just good-intentioned no-names. I don’t care how much he makes, and what this does for his image… Irrespective of all that, it is still a noble effort.

    1. agreed. totally agreed.
      i girl saved. one woman not traumatised. one woman not trafficked – the show has done something. anything more is a bonus

  8. I saw this program later in the evening on youtube. As you rightly pointed out there is nothing new with it.
    But at the same time the difference was perhaps, to start with, due to Aamir Khan. Rants about him taking some 3crore per episode is not bad in the light that he is making money to stop something that is illegal while others are making it to let this illegal thing flourish.
    Coming to the this episode, it was relevant, was hard hitting, was out of the clutter and hence appreciated.
    Though I had this question in my mind,
    How would this be taken by a huge number of people who are ALL for
    this illegal thing
    Would it stir them up?
    Would there be some action somewhere, which has some significance.
    I remember to have read in an English national daily about brides being bought from Bihar/Orissa by families from Punjab, and at times one wife “serving” more than one husband and then this sting operation. But never did anything significant happened out of it. Will it JUST disturb some speculations, increase a little of TRPs, bring in a few more advertisements and revenue to sponsors? I fear.

    Satyemevjayate talked largely about remedy, but how about finding the cause?

    What do you think might be the cause for this?

    I have a few things (relating to cause) in my mind which I would want to share, assuming you won’t mind:

    1. The moment a girl is born an (fixed) account/liability starts.
    2. The beautiful girl is a constant worry for parents – the crime rates against women globally, vindicates this worry/concern.
    3. 70% of the population’s biggest spend in their entire life span is marriage of their daughter & mind you the burden (sorry to use this word) does not spare the rich. For their is this formula: If you neighbour/relative spends N amount of money you got to spend N+1 amount to stay socially alive.
    4. When a marriage breaks, the man has umpteen choices but the women ? And now with the increase in divorce cases, hopeless Live-ins, the matter isn’t getting any better.
    5. Girl is a trophy – My girl/wife is better than yours ! When an Akshay Kumar or for that reason Aamir Khan does an item number, surrounded by damsels, it’s fine and welcome, when a PoonamPandey, Sierra Leonne does it, its their body, their wish. But if and when you think, not all 100% women are like them. So how about the average lookers? Below average lookers? And can it ever be the fault of that lady?

    And then can the parents fear be unfounded?

    I end with this line and that is the suggestion that I have “Emancipation of the tree from soil is no freedom from bondage”

    You may wish to read this

    Thanks for the read Sir !

  9. “Nothing presented in the show was new. What was new, however, was the approach”
    “Our journalists should take a leaf out of Aamir’s interviewing style – let the other person talk”

    touché… & then, once again!

  10. Wholeheartedly agree with your review!
    total respect for Aamir Khan. If it even raises the consciousness of people against such ghastly acts, I feel the show would have served it’s purpose. I liked how instead of sensationalizing the topic, it has been treated with so much empathy.
    Aamir as always have made sure he “the star” doesn’t overtake the role he has set out to play – his role here is to act as a channel for people to share their stories – the real stars of this show are those people and that’s how they are portrayed in the show.
    Can’t wait for the following episodes.

  11. I live in UK ,watched this with my family,had to explain and calm my 18year old that ,yes it happens ,and no I can not change the channel just because WE are getting upset by the horrific details of someone across the world, think ,what the victims are going through …….have three boys only because each time went into labor hoping for my princess, and now pray if and when our sons get married and plan a family ,we would be blessed at least one granddaughter from each

    BRAVO Mr Khan , you voice ,what we all feel some time or another when faced with any wrong doing …..I wonder how the culprits sleep at night …….however ,like that lady said one needs to confront the and not just accept it in the name of fate…..

  12. Aamir we are proud of u
    when u say it has nationwide impact
    ur true son of india
    we are with u always.
    we r smsing but 5782711 but its not working.

  13. THANX fr d brave topic is sad to c dis going on in our country….BUT isse dekhke deh ke logon ki aankhein khule..mera beta kehta hai ki India ka kuchh nahin ho sakta…n I dont like dis..U can help in changing d attitude of our young generation…wo subah kabhi to aayegi …..JAI HIND .

  14. The show s superb…..! d current problems have been taken up …. thx to d production house, nd Mr.khan 4 doin this show…….. aftr seein this show , and d issues ……..f d educated peoples are involved in dis …… feels really bad

  15. //It has been a long time since Indian Broadcasting worked in the public interest – i hope that this marks the point at which the which an adoloscent industry goes towards adulthood by not just creating content aimed at titilating the lowest common denominator, but also at bringing the lowest common denominator a notch higher//

    Loved what you have said here. I hope so too.
    There should be no issues with money and profits and TRPs being catered for – so long as it is done ethically, and here it does way more than that. Hats off to Amir Khan.

  16. the main issue is infanticide… it does not matter if infant is girl or boy.. if it is with. male child ( .if ratio of male per 1000 female becomes lower) then same crisis will happen..certainly present population controll fashion is animal birth of a cow is prefered over bull because of utility factor ..but if in our human society if we really recognise the real utility values of females than only crisis would stop to be happend. govt shold formulate the policies to give promotions and reservations in jobs for couples having daughters only.. they must be allow to give births more girls . In these service class families because it is almost certain in recent deteriorating trend couples having two daughers only know the ehtics and values of girl child and they did not prefer abrtion or other brutal tech. to eliminate girls..

  17. THANX fr d brave topic tk…..Nothing presented in the show was new. What was new, however, was the approach”
    “Our journalists should take a leaf out of Aamir’s interviewing style – let the other person talk”

    touché… & then, once again!

    n This is one the finest program from Amir Khan. I

  18. Aamir is really fabulous guy he always perform a new thought in public mind ….he always deed which things who make a serious effect on public like …….Tare Zameen Par.after watching these movies parents are think with his children what he want to be………….and Three Idoits is one more symbolic movie of aamir khan these make we have to do that in which we are perfect……….and now Satyameva Jayate is again a virtual deeds from aamir khan ………….i love his songs o re chariya…………..

  19. loved amir khans show was realy interesting hw kind of him dat he is helping the peopel ho need help the most

  20. Very aptly put – best analysis of your writing was the description of the Set. Have read many articles since the 1st episode of SJ got aired – hardly has any1 paid attention to the Set of SJ.
    Kodus Harini 🙂

  21. I am very much moved by the programme started bringing out shameful ills in our country. As an actor I find him very responsible. Regarding the programme on Dowry menace, the younger generation should feel it as to stretch their hand before bride’s father for material things.

  22. respected sir, main SJ ku bahut like karti hu.main b apni life mein suffer kar rahi hu . main married hu ,meri 1 beti hai .last year mere husband ki death ho gai thi .mere husband ku sucide karne k liye mere husband k brother & his wife ne force kiya tha.par mere inlaws ne mujhse statment change karwa di,aur baad mein mujhe & meri beti ku tourcher kar k mujhe jabrdasti ghar see niklne k liye mazboor kar diya.aaj main apni beti ku lekar apne parents k pass rahti ho.
    mere inlaws ab mujhe aur meri beti ko hmaara haq nahi de rahe.mujhe pta hai main akeli nahi ,mere jaisi kai ladkiyan hogi jo apne inlaws se preshan hogi,mujhe dukh is baat ka hai k hmaari police aaj b rishwat lene k liye har time tyar rahti hai .ek saal ho giya mujhe insaaf magte hoe ,par mujhe abhi tak insaaf nahi mila.
    please sir help me & my daughter.jab se SJ start hua hai meri hope jaag chuki hai ab mera dil kehta hai k mujh jaisi ladkiyion ku jroor insaaf milaga.
    please sir help us.
    i’m proud of you sir.

  23. hi sir very good job……..sir i want join you with some other solid topic its very importent to our country….

  24. increadiable work for the country and its could be done someone special person….aamir khan ,,,,,real hero of country,,,,

  25. Aamir bhai mein phicle char sal se education mafia ke virudh laad raha hunspecially called as Sikshan Samrat,s of maharashtra aap samaj sakte hai unki pahunchke karan government officials chahate hue bhi koi action nahi le sakte/rahe koi descision agar edu.officer de bhi de to unki halat patli kar dete hai ye log ek phone jate hi sab kuch badal jata hai admission ka to kya kahe sirf kakaj par hi hai sarva siksha abhiyan,mein to kahonga SABKO ”SHIKSHA” KARNE KA ABHIYAN HAI YE,jaise ana,vastra,chat insaan ke jine ke liye mulbhut adhikar hote hai vaise hi shiksha bhi mulbhut ho free ho ya sasti ho but excellent quality ho aaj bhi principal ko technology nahi admission ne naam par rishvat chahiye,workbooks ke naam par bachhon ke pith par 10-15 kilo ka boja rakh kar student nahi hamal bana diya hai inhone bahut kuch hai karne bolne ke liye lekin MERI AWAZ KAUN SUNEGA,aap kuch kijiye.
    Mein bhi is abhiyan mein judna chahata hoonb mere paas bhi kuch nahi bahut kuch he karne aur kahane ke liye kya koi achha platform milsakta hai.
    meri awaz suno…………….Jai Hind

    please do not neglect do read it

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