Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Does Truth really Triumph every Sunday?!

satyamev Jayate

Does Satyamev Jayate work? Asked Pritish Nandy. It’s the same question that I’ve been asking myself since Episode One. TRP wise, yes it works big time. It also serves as a catharsis for so many ‘worldly-wise’ individuals. It puts Aamir on a different plane altogether considering the fact that his contemporaries did mediocre shows like “Kya aap paanchvi pass se tez ho?” or “Sawaal Dus Crore kaa”. But does it really work the way that it set out to or it claims it set out to?

The show is presented & packaged very well. But the approach is dubious.The title says “Truth shall prevail” but Aamir just dons the hat of a journalist and peeks into the lives of unfortunate, downtrodden and affected people. It’s no different from the other voyeuristic news programmes that we’ve been accustomed to. Aamir takes a moral high ground, zooms into the lives of victims and makes them relive their worst memories.

As audience, we click our tongues patronisingly at the alcoholic journalist who threw it all away. We blame the doctors for being so money-minded, for conducting sex determination tests & abetting female foeticide. We berate our leaders for not making India a disabled friendly country. We blame parents of children who were sexually abused for not paying heed and finally, we LOVE to blame the younger generation for drinking and driving!

This is where the show succeeds. While Aamir tries to pinpoint the ills that plague “Our” nation, we look at the mistakes of “Other” people. Along with him, Aamir successfully elevates us to a morally higher ground as well.

The format of the show is the same every time. Aamir begins with a sombre soliloquy and then invites a couple of victims with sob stories to share. Aamir then dutifully sobs at each story and gasps as well, lest the sobbing become boring and one dimensional. Then walks in an expert who gives his two cents and sometimes a celebrity is thrown in for good measure. All through the show we are bombarded with facts and trivia that we are only too aware of. It’s the same story the next week as well albeit, a different problem.

Maybe I am being too harsh here and the show has indeed affected a lot of people. But as I said in the beginning, it’s the approach that concerns me. The show is nothing more than a news report with a glamorous, weeping anchor who pretends to understand. It’s a welcome change from the macabre news reporters of India TV. The show pretends to attempt to make a change but Aamir stops short of it by a long, long way. And that, is a big flaw.

Each issue, is accorded an episode. These things can only be resolved by proper, regular and annoying follow ups. Else, what do we do with so many sad stories? Aamir merely presents the problem, never the solution. I would love to see him file an RTI or a PIL. To be fair to him, he could’ve done a “Paanchvi Pass se tez ho” as well but he chose to differently. As Nandy says, Aamir isn’t a change agent but he has attempted something. Hats off to that, and hopefully truth shall prevail someday.

Until then, it’s not Satyamev Jayate every Sunday it’s our version of the Oprah Winfrey show and that’s a big compliment!