It’s the mother of all reality shows. Film star Aamir Khan’s much-awaited TV debut, Satyamev Jayate, opened to an overwhelming response on Sunday morning.
The show’s official website crashed minutes after the telecast, because of the unmanageable traffic. Within an hour, Twitter had recorded over 2,000 tweets — indeed the show was trending on the microblogging site all day.
Bollywood biggies were full of praise: director-actor Farhan Akhtar called it a “show with a heart” while Shabana Azmi said it “can bring a revolution”.
But apart from celebrities, it was the avalanche of tweets from ordinary people that gave the reaction muscle and depth. The 90-minute episode, telecast on Star Plus, Doordarshan and a host of regional channels, was focused on female foeticide and featured harrowing personal stories of women from places as diverse as Ahmedabad, Morena and New Delhi.
But what made the show different was that Aamir Khan didn’t leave it at that. He provided hard figures (three crore girls killed in the last few decades), showed how the practice had spread almost all over the country, among all classes, and explained the frightening outcome.
There were revelations too: few viewers would have known that the practice originated in the Seventies in government hospitals. At the end of the show, Khan provided what he called the “jadoo ki chhadi” – that, quite simply, it was up to every individual to reject the very idea of foeticide.
In a television environment choked with mindless soaps and glamour-driven reality shows, Satyamev Jayate is the ultimate differentiator. A Bollywood star holding a mirror up to social evils in a forgotten time slot (11am on a Sunday morning — the ‘epic’ time slot of the Eighties, when the Ramayana and Mahabharata were shown) — that’s the stuff TV history is made of.