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Can ‘Satyamev Jayate’ be India’s answer to The Oprah Winfrey show?

07-May-2012
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Can ‘Satyamev Jayate’ be India’s answer to The Oprah Winfrey show?

Doubt if anyone has remained untouched by the build-up and hype around this Aamir Khan debut on TV. We have seen its ads and promos in every conceivable media. There has been huge editorial interest and coverage. After a long time there is a programme on TV that has been marked in most diaries as a must-see.

Some facts and figures that have added to the aura, including a few ‘firsts’:
• It has Aamir Khan and the belief that he is likely to do something ‘hatke’
• The fact that he has worked on this project, silently and selflessly, for over two years
• The programme is to be aired across the STAR network and Doordarshan
• The programme has been created as a multi-lingual show, especially being dubbed in the southern languages
• The promos have run in 300 cinemas across the country
• Despite the many interviews given by the star actor, no one really knew what the program is all about – no leaks, only speculation

With such credentials, I am sure that the viewership yesterday morning would have delivered on the expectations.

The show
As expected, the program is ‘hatke’. An issue that we are aware of on some level (female foeticide) was brought to the fore and presented to us with many thought-provoking angles. We were made aware of the many serious consequences that have already raised their heads and are threatening the peace of our society.

Going beyond the problem and related concerns, examples that inspire us to hope for a brighter future were also cited. And a rallying call for action was made, with Aamir Khan personally offering to take the first step by writing and knocking on the doors of concerned authorities, while seeking support of the masses.

The expectations
The many post-programme debates I have seen on TV have already hailed Aamir as the next messiah and ‘Satyamev Jayate’ as a platform that will solve many burning issues that ail our society. Aamir himself has shared his choice of the Sunday 11AM slot to recreate the magic and nation-wide euphoria created by Mahabharata and Ramayana.

There are 16 episodes planned, each taking up a new issue that faces our society.

Just a few thoughts, a few questions that have crossed my mind:
• Are India’s mass audiences ready to go beyond mere entertainment and get hooked on to a show that forces us to think?
• With such high expectations having been created, will this program attract and retain the eyeballs till the last episode?
• Does the programme have the potential of becoming India’s answer to The Oprah Winfrey show?
• In recent times, when issues such as 26/11, the Lokpal bill and the Jessica Lal murder have been raised and discussed over weeks only to then become a distant memory, will one episode per issue be adequate to create mass awareness, mass empathy and an actual change in society?
• Can too much of a build-up or hype harm the true intentions of a sincere effort made by India’s only thinking actor?

The author is CMO – Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group

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