The team behind the TV show 'Satyamev Jayate' had its own share of surprises and revelations during its making. DirectorSatyajit Bhatkaland his wife and co-director and research headSvati Chakravartyshare their experiences on making the show withAamir Khan.
* How did Satyamev Jayate take shape?
Satyajit: Two and a half years ago, Aamir said to me, "I want you to travel all over India and document all the issues affecting the country and its people." In three months, our researchers shot six documentaries for Aamir. We created a format that's today the base for our episodes. We decided we won't tell 'sob' stories but take a 360-degree view of a social problem and present it without bias.
* How challenging was the making?
Satyajit: It was difficult; took over two years. Our researchers spent over 100 hours on the road. We studied literature, read books, met experts and drew from personal experiences. Theessencewas finding people who had the courage to speak to us. A lot is about trust.
Svati: It was emotionally exhausting; most experiences haunt us even now. During the filming of the episode on female foeticide, a victim who had gone through a horrifying ordeal wanted to speak to me in confidence. The cameraman switched on the camera and left the room. When our team was going through the film, the victim's story was so agonizing our sound engineer cried and the cameraman hit his head repeatedly against the wall in despair.
* How did you manage to convince people to come on the show?
Satyajit: It was tough - of 100 people we met, 99 didn't want to come on camera. But, that one person who did is the hero or heroine for us.
Svati: We travelled across India. We told people we were conducting research. At no point did we tell them Aamir was part of the show because the prime objective was to find issues and right sources.
* Many felt Aamir's gestures were scripted, including his weeping...
Satyajit: All of us including Aamir have been emotionally involved. Aamir is a very emotional person and has a genuine understanding of these people. His tears are spontaneous. There are lighter moments too with some outspoken people like Kamala Bhasin, KK andJaved Akhtarspeaking their mind.
* Can you share any interesting anecdotes?
Svati: When we were shooting in Morena,Madhya Pradesh, during the lunch break we went out to the marketplace for a bite. We were surprised to see all the men toting rifles. At Varanasi, amonkeysnatched away our correspondent's glasses. A local offered to retrieve them for Rs 30 saying he had to cajole the monkey with biscuits. We later learned he'd trained the monkey.
* What is the response from viewers?
Svati: Overwhelming! Many wrote to us with heart-wrenching personal stories especially after the episodes on female foeticide and child sexual abuse were aired. A person from our own team revealed he too was a victim.
Satyajit: Soon after the episode onalcoholismwas telecast,Alcoholics Anonymousreceived over 100,000 calls from families seeking help. Donations to organizations are solicited after researching them and interviewing representatives to find if they are worthy of help.
* How do you handle criticism and ire?
Satyajit: This show has nothing personal against anybody. Our aim is not to demonise anybody but to honestly deal with a problem. We're merely looking for answers. The country is full of heroes; the idea was to find them.
* Can we look forward to a second season?
Satyajit: We're not in a hurry. We'd like to sit down, analyze where we can improve, what we did wrong, travel, digest the experience and meet more people. Even if we do a second season, it would again be something to contribute to a change in society.
* Tell us about your Bhatkal connection...
Satyajit: Though my name comes from the fishing village Bhatkal in Karnataka, I've never lived there -- I was born and raised in Mumbai. My grandfather moved to Mumbai when he was 10, Many years ago, I visited the town. Karnataka is beautiful, fertile and culturally very rich. I'd definitely love to have a house in Bhatkal.
* The idea for the pesticides episode came from Bangalore...
Svati: We got the idea when we saw protests in Bangalore against the rampant use of the killer endosulfan last year. I went to Kasargod where I discovered horrific cases of mutilated children, victims of the effects of endosulfan sprayed in the fields over three decades ago.
Source: Times of India?