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Aamir Khan’s SATYAMEV JAYATE: A Show with a Heart

© Hindi Cinema Blog

This Sunday, the Hindi Cinema Blog enjoyed an hour and a half in excellent company. The actor turned TV show-host, Aamir Khan and his guests, graced the household with Khan’s “most ambitious project to date”, television show Satyamev Jayate.

Expectation at Star Plus TV was at its highest as the first episode countdown began since last evening. A permanent announcement being made at the top left-hand corner of their broadcast let India know how many hours, minutes and seconds were left for the final take off. 

Let us imagine… Do you recall Deejay (Rang de Basanti), the rebel who increasingly became aware of his country and wished he could become its voice and touch its people enough to create change from within? How about Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Taare Zameen Par), who wanted each child’s voice to be heard and nurtured? The picture would not be complete without the immensely popular and endearing Rancho (3 Idiots), the inspiring intelligent innocence who moves lives and whom we can all relate to because that is what we each aspire to become. Our imagination can see that all of these characters had a common denominator apart from their will to make the world, or at least India, a better place. That common denominator is Aamir Khan. Things seem to come full circle with Satyamev Jayate.

After many questions from the media and the audience related to what his show’s content would be, the result is an eclectic, pacy, touching and profoundly Indian talk show. A few elements of Satyamev Jayate may have been perceived in USA based talk shows, especially those catering to minorities (early 90s “Cristina” shows, for example) in terms of creating awareness regarding a certain issue or the emotional degree of the content being presented. Aamir Khan’s show however is innovative and deeply different in the sense that its topic, mindset, audience on the set, specialists and even its entertainment style (oh what wonderful music!) are Indian at the very core. Those readers who relate to India or are Indian will understand that this signifies that the show is unique in itself, given India’s inherent singularity.

It is obvious that the show has been the result of considerable work by its team, ranging from research, footage and choice of topic to the carefully written TV host monologue used to present the issue at hand. Moreover, it has been an excellent choice to open the show by targeting a vast audience with the topic of female foeticide, which will inevitably be close to each woman’s heart and to which the male part of the population can also relate to. The time slot selected for broadcasting the show we believe has also been a winning decision. 

But how to present an issue to the audience in only one hour and a half? How can the show be useful to India? The first episode of Satyamev Jayate reflects that these questions were extensively pondered on beforehand and we are happy to be witnesses to that. The show attempts to draw in donations for the cause being presented through Junglee, thereby motivating the audience to act upon what they have been listening to and be useful. We hope other ways of collecting funds have been put in place in other episodes, helping those who do not have resources to donate to possibly win or generate money for the cause. As to the challenge of presenting an issue and its major implications in only one hour and a half, the show succeeds and achieves so through logic (presenting the dangerous consequences of female foeticide) but also through the heart… I have not seen another Indian cinema icon connecting emotionally and genuinely, even if briefly, with his fellow countrymen as much as Aamir Khan. Though guests are interviewed by him for only a very short time, their story is to the point and stirs feelings in he who listens. Satyamev Jayate is a show about feeling. It is a show with a heart. 

Even though this first episode of Satyamev Jayate does not truly show what many expected as a window into India in the shape of a road trip through Bharat, with Khan encountering his fellow countrymen and women throughout the vast wonder of his nation, this blogger has not yet given up in seeing that dream sporadically unfold on screen in subsequent episodes.  Aamir Khan may always be trusted to surprise one and all. The thirteen topics are as many opportunities to unravel delightful surprises.

A final mention goes to the fantastic theme song for the episode. Ram Sampath accompanied Swanand Kirkire in O Ri Chiraiya, one of his best television performances, both due to the beauty of the song and lyrics but also to the perpetual moving quality of his voice.

An hour and a half went by without blinking and now the week will have a new mantra until we reach next Sunday: “Hum sach se nazrein hatayen kyon”... 

Watch the full episode with English subtitles below:

Satyamev Jayate airs on StarPlus and DD1 at 11 am IST every Sunday in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada 
Learn about Satyamev Jayate on Wikipedia

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