Now that Satyamev Jayate (Star Plus) is finally ending this week, what’s the journey been like? I watched pretty much all the episodes — but before saying anything more, an honest confession. I never watched an episode in real time, ie, on Sunday morning at 11am. Yes, it is the ‘epic’ slot when, once upon a time, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata were shown. Yes, Aamir Khan repeatedly said that “Main aapko jagane aa raho hoon” (I’m coming to wake you up — and he didn’t just mean dragging you out of your bed, as even the most dim-witted viewer would have gathered).
I always recorded each and every episode and saw it later. This is of course more convenient, but I didn’t do it only for the sake of convenience. After the first couple of episodes I realised that this was not the programme I wanted to see on Sunday mornings at 11. What I wanted to do on the morning of my one and only weekly holiday was to relax, be lazy, listen to music, read something interesting in a magazine etc. I did not want to feel upset / unsettled / angry (even if I liked the show, which I did). But that’s probably just me. Because most viewers did see the show in real time without any problems.
But watch I did. Aamir Khan and Star Plus showed serious guts, doing a socially relevant show of this kind, often focusing on very tough, sensitive issues — like the episode on child sexual abuse. (Even now, I find it hard to believe that I saw this programme on national television).
The show is a bit long, at one-and-a-half hours; it is also intense and sometimes heavy viewing (though Aamir does try and lighten the mood off and on).
But equally, I found it rewarding.
As I see it, most of the episodes left you either teary or terrified. The episode on, say, domestic violence fell into the former category, but the episode on pesticides belonged to the latter (it was difficult thereafter not to look at every apple or cucumber with the deepest disquiet and suspicion).
Many people have been ranting about how all these subjects have been discussed threadbare in the media for years; so what’s the big deal about Satyamev Jayate? But I think the format, tone and pitch of the show, and the research team’s efforts made for a unique 360-degree experience. In each episode, Aamir did the following:
He (or rather his research team) found and brought to the show people whose moving personal testimonies focused attention on the issue more powerfully than anything else could have.
He provided startling facts and figures, often sourced from government surveys.
He called in experts to give the issue some perspective and analysis.
In the end, he always held out a ray of hope, by highlighting either a success story or a way out of the problem.
And throughout, he kept the tone of the show quiet and dignified.
It was, if you like, a one-stop window to understanding complex problems. Even when things got a bit heavy, viewers would’ve probably stayed with the show because of Aamir’s star power.
Has Satyamev Jayate brought about social change? Who knows? But it has definitely created awareness on an impressive scale. That’s not bad going, is it?