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Aamir Khan Continues to Shake-up India’s Conscience

An Expedition Begins

The first episode of Satyemev Jayete had its impact of shock and awe.

Trust Mr. Perfectionist to maintain a perfect record. The show has had several episodes now, one added every week. And each one  has made itself felt, succeeding in making a profound impression and impact. It has made us deeply aware of hard-hitting and difficult issues that people are facing in India. These are issues that often lurk around, so uncomfortable that they generally remain hidden away, ignored and swept under the carpet.

The Journey So Far: Stunning & Overwhelming

 He has now tackled these weighty topics:

Child Sexual Abuse

Indian Weddings and Dowry

Medical Fraud

Love and Honor Killings 

Handling Disabilities in India

Domestic Violence

Pesticide Abuse Harming Health

The bottom line is that each episode is worth its weight in gold.  The visual snip below gives you an idea of the holistic coverage that each topic receives (this sample is the one on Love and Honor Killings).

It’s All About Real Stories

Not only is the significant issue in question illustrated through the use of real stories that touch you, move you and pull you in, this is combined with deep research and expert opinions. To top it off, it’s not just a discussion of problems and issues. Practical solutions are proposed, and enhanced with real world examples of success or resolution.

Given that these are such serious issues, one would think that they don’t make for “entertainment” or regular viewership. They sure sound like boring documentaries, don’t they?

Yet each has been presented so well that as I watch, I become totally immersed in the issue being discussed. It does not even matter that I don’t care much about a particular issue. In addition to making me aware of it from a 360 degree perspective, I find that I am paying close attention and yes, caring. That’s largely because of the sensitivity, humanity, depth and authenticity of the presentation.

Now, I’m sounding like an advertisement for Satyamev Jayate! Well, so be it.

If you have even a morsel of interest or are concerned enough to learn about some of the endemic and grave societal, economic or cultural issues facing India, you would do yourself a mighty favor by watching the show. I admit this may not be for everyone, but what do you have to lose?

Can you say IMPACT?

If it triggers even 10%…make that 1% of the viewers of any episode  to think twice or make changes or personally commit to address related issues – why, then it’s all been so worth it.

However, it’s impact appears to have been larger.

For example, this: Lok Sabha passes child protection bill courtesy Aamir.

Click on this picture snipped from the show’s website to see more about what they are saying about the impact being made:

An initiative like this could not have been conceived and implemented without considerable thought, intellect and investment (financial and emotional). Never could I have imagined that someone from Bollywood – even someone like him – would take upon themselves the degree of ownership and responsibility to produce (at great risk indeed) such a significant and sweeping portrayal of national human issues. Not simple ones either but extremely serious, controversial and sensitive ones that face this country. It makes this initiative that much more awe-inspiring.

I’m hooked, can you tell? I’m half way around the world and unable to view this program on TV for a couple of weeks, but I still managed to stay caught up with the recordings posted online.

It’s time to once again thank Aamir Khan for the social crusader that he has become. And for bringing to India and Indians something that is daring, thought-provoking and exceptional. It’s a game-changer and so much more breathtaking than mere entertainment could ever be.

So, what are you watching?

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Aamir Khan Jolts India With Some Soul Shattering Reality

Allow me to gush.  Please.

For months, he has been teasing Indians with short promos about his new TV “reality show” Satyamev Jayete without revealing what it is all about. All people had were those teasers and their own imaginations to work with.

But then Aamir Khan,  the perfectionist,  has an extremely high credibility quotient. Such that when the show debuted today (the day I write this – Sunday, May 6th), millions tuned in to watch. I dare say, millions came away awed and amazed. I know I did.

Satyamev Jayete literally means Truth is Invincible or Truth Alone Prevails. He could not have chosen a better title for his show.

When I did bother to think about it, my impression from having seen a promo or two, was that we would be presented with a travelogue of India and conversations with ordinary but interesting people that he would meet on his journeys across the country. Something that was mostly pleasant, captured well on camera (India captures splendidly on camera – all those brilliant colors!) and because this was Aamir, entertaining and worth a watch as well.

Boy, was I off the mark!

Little did I realize that he was going for the gut – mine, by  dealing with hard and hard-hitting issues like this one!

His entire debut episode centered on a single topic – that of female foeticide. It is described on his website (after the fact) as such:

In this episode Aamir talks about the killing of unborn girls, or female foeticide, an alarming and frightening reality. It involves the collusion of families, doctors and a social structure that encourages the desire for a boy child – at any cost. The result has been the death of over 3 crore unborn girls since independence and a generation of young men, many amongst whom will find it very tough to get a life partner.

[Note: 3 crore = 30 million!]

The episode contained the sensitive and soul touching stories of real women who had undergone frightening experiences with forced abortions by in-laws or husbands, not once, but over and over again – whenever an ultra-sound showed that the baby was a girl. It showed how they dealt with these tragedies and how they overcame them to end up having daughters.

But it did not end there.

It went on to examine why this happens in India, how this insane practice got started and became tragically virulent, and the sad consequences to this society if it continues – the entire cycle supported by:

experts, facts, real stories and true journalism.

From a Bollywood actor?!

With lumps in our throats and even tears in our eyes, we watched these horrific yet awe-inspiring stories and went on to watch Aamir reveal some remarkable facts – for example, I (like most people) didn’t realize that most female foeticide does not just happen among the poor and rural masses. In fact, it is more prevalent among the richer and educated citizens. What?

We sure do jump to quick conclusions based on such superficial assumptions, don’t we?  

Well-thought out, thorough and gripping.

A show that combines all these factors cannot be produced overnight. It has obviously taken an immense amount of time, research, talented people, and dedication to get it to…PERFECTION

Ultimately it portrayed a reality in all its grisliness, speaking frankly of horrors that people avoid talking about but in a way that touched hearts. And to the logical minds in us, it spoke about why these atrocities were occurring, why they should stop and more importantly, how they could be stopped.

What was unexpected and different is not in what the reality was, but in how effectively it was presented…leaving people with a multitude of deep, unforeseen emotional reactions.  

I write this while the show is still fresh on my mind from this morning. I can’t help it…words are simply pouring out of me.

Each of us that watched it together felt the impact (the initial reactions from people around India appear to have been similar). We were touched deeply and were inspired to do something about this serious issue.

Aamir Khan!

My salute to Aamir Khan for his guts, passion, conviction, leadership and an outstanding contribution to the nation. The guy’s stature just keeps growing and growing…

And don’t even bother to discuss this “reality show” in the same breath as all the other trivial TV shows that are out there! 

The way I see it – people talk and writers write (so do bloggers) but most have a limited reach. Here’s someone who has combined his clout and star power with a medium that reaches millions of households in India. What’s different is that he’s taken advantage of his super stardom to get serious and comprehensively address a burning current issue (with more to come, I’m sure). From Aamir Khan the actor to Aamir Khan the activist? [Remind you of  someone else…say, George Clooney?] Success to you, Mr.Khan!

By using this powerful combination on TV, he has (so far) been able to get great coverage and draw a huge audience…can this broad awareness be transformed into a movement for real change?  That’s brilliant!

Plus he has also neatly blended his business side (he is paid well for each episode he produces – it appears he is putting his heart and soul into it, and with this result – why ever not?) with the humanitarian and patriot in him. Good for him!

Okay, I’ve gushed enough. I’m really writing this for those of you who have not had a chance to watch this show.

Be sure to catch it – it’s online now.

[I do hope that it comes out soon with English subtitles – somehow barely-there, passable Hindi is inadequate for such a deep presentation where I don’t want to be missing a word].

I can’t wait for what next Sunday will bring. Now there’s actually a damn good reason to turn on that idiot box!

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Show promo with its title song:

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