Press Release

Does Satyamev Jayate work?

11 July 2012

For the past few weeks I have watchedAamir Khan on TV raising crucial social issues on his show. I like the way he does it though I know many who don't. I know why they don't. The flaws are obvious.

To begin with, the show gives us the distinct (if somewhat false) impression that it intends to repair social ills. But as you keep watching it, you realise Aamir is a voyeur, not a reformist. He is not a voyeur like we journalists are. Journalists don't just point out social ills. They campaign against them. They stick their neck out for what they believe in. Aamir does neither though he adopts the tone and demeanour of a journalist. He presents the problem and then steps back, expecting the political system to repair it. And that, as we all know, never happens. So the show is an escapist tear-jerker. It will not change the world around you. It does not even intend to.

That makes it doubly frustrating. When someone points out what is wrong, you expect the person to set it right (which a leader can do, if he really wants to) or put so much pressure on the political system that it is forced to act (as a journalist tries to do, not always with much success). Satyamev Jayate attempts neither. Aamir sheds a few tears. So do we and then, next week, we move on to another problem, another tear jerking show, another catharsis. No one knows what to do with all these sad stories. If they had appeared in newspapers, people would have filed PILs or RTI queries to see how they could push the issue to a point where the Government is forced to act. For, as we all know, no Government works on its volition. Since Aamir is the interlocutor here, they expect him to do that.

Movie stars may be larger thanlifeon screen. But when it comes to taking on the political system, they have no clue how to do it. In fact, I doubt if they want to. In real life, unlike their imagined screen roles, they do not see politicians as enemies. They see them as peer group: People with power and money. Journalists, on the other hand, often put their life on the line chasing stories. I know because like many others I have faced countless court cases, harassment, intimidation, death threats. But we take it in our stride because we see it as our job. A movie star does not see exposing the truth as his job. His job is creating illusions. So while he may occasionally endorse a cause, he will be the first to step aside when things get rough. I don't blame them. It's not what they set out to do.

That's the fatal flaw of the show. Aamir does his best to beat it but it is not in his hands to do so. He has to go back to making movies and this, after all, for him is just another TV show. It is not his life. Yet by adopting the tone of a journalist, he makes it appear as if he is truly and deeply concerned with the issues he has raised. That is where the contradiction lies. And that is where Satyamev Jayate fails. It fails because Aamir cannot and will not see the issues through to a solution. He is a great guy but not a change agent. He is an actor, a role model, a charming claimant to the role of a journalist. But he neither has the will nor the persistence to bring about change. Nor does he have the time. This is, for him, a TV show. Not his life, nor the purpose of his existence.
But yes, Satyamev Jayate will eventually bring about change simply because it happened. Everything we do leaves its impact, if not right then and there, at some later stage. That is why it's important the show happened. It's important Aamir saw it as a purpose albeit for a 13 week period. Now life has to pick it up. History has to assimilate it. You and I have to take it ahead. Aamir's job will be over after the 13th week.
Source: Times of India
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