When Aamir Khan delivers a social message through his TV show Satyamev Jayate, everyone goes gaga about how big a step it is towards better content on Indian television.
However, Satyamev Jayaye is not the only TV show that aims at bringing about a positive change in the society. There are shows like Halla Bol and Change Ayega Hum Layenge which talk about social evils and then provide very youth-centric and apt solutions to them. Interestingly, they do so without bringing in any celeb faces (except, of course, the occasional promotional appearances the stars tend to make).
Change Ayega Hum Layenge is a joint collaboration of TV channel Bindaas and The Viral Fever - a group popular for satirical videos online. The show begins with a satirical take on a particular issue. In the second half of the show, titled social experiment, actors act out scenes of conflict or illegal activity in public while hidden cameras videotape the scene. The focus is on whether or not bystanders intervene, and how.
Talking about Change Ayega Hum Layenge, host Gurpreet Saini says, "Our target audience is the youth. This is one place where the change can really happen and youth is a major portion of the country's population."
But are they getting enough response? Gurpreet adds, "I get a lot of personal messages congratulating me for the show. Especially the social experiment part of the show is a huge hit. People come up to me and ask if the stuff they see on their TVs is real. I tell them, 'yes, all the positive and negative responses we show are real."
The show has raised issues like civic responsibilities, crime against women, underage drinking and voting.
The social experiment is not a totally novel idea. ABC network premiered the show What Would You Do, with a similar concept way back in 2008. The show is hosted by news correspondent John Quiñones.
Halla Bol showcases how women suffer abuses of various kinds and how they fight back. In the one month since when the show began, it has covered grave issues like marital rape, sexual abuse, domestic violence, acid attack, child abuse - issues that the society prefers not to talk about.
Shalini Sethi (director, content (Bindass), Media Networks – Disney India) said, "I am especially happy and content to be heading the Halla Bol team. They are doing such a wonderful job of women as fighters and not victims. Several women have messaged me talking about their personal fights or how the show encourages them to do the same."
So, does it ever occur to the show creators to rope in celeb faces? No, says Shalini. "The issues that we raise are very common. A woman travelling in buses and trains would have experienced molestation. So, it is easier to relate to faces that look like us. We have a certain image of our celebs, it will be a bit hard to relate to them."
As per the data provided by the channel, both the shows have garnered decent TVTs. While Halla Bol averaged TVT of 24, Change Ayega, more popular with web audience, had TVT ratings of 9. Comparing that with Aamir Khan's Satyamev Jayate (that had five to seven thousand TVTs every week), may not be fair.
Do you agree that Indian television has moved on from the regressive content it used to offer? If not completely done away with, we have variety and choices. Share your thoughts with us in the comment box below.