Mediaah! Thank you, Star Plus. Thank you, Aamir Khan

07 May,2012

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

 

I know it’s not a great idea to gush thus about a television channel, network and presenter. But can’t help doing that, for, in one masterstroke, Star India and its flagship channel Star Plus have atoned for the sins of not only unleashing regressive saas-bahu/domestic disharmony content over the years, but also shown the finger to all those who’ve been calling our broadcasters irresponsible.

 

There’s been much buzz about how it was going to be a desi Oprah Winfrey Show. Perhaps that may have been the inspiration and the impact created is possibly quite like that of an Oprah. It’s not that Indian television hasn’t attemped social issues earlier. There have been some groundbreaking talk shows on social issues in the past. Priya Tendulkar’s Rajani in the mid-1980s was splendid. It was entertaining, thought-provoking and activisty. I remember noted litterateur Kamleshwar doing a show on social and current issues called Parikrama on Doordarshan in the late 1970s and 80s, but am fuzzy about its content and don’t find any detailed reference to on the internet.

 

There’s a lot being said about Satyamev Jayate. On MxMIndia and elsewhere. What Satyajit Bhatkal and Co have done is no rocket science. It’s what a good, well-researched story in a newsmagazine or a weekend paper would be (and ought to be). Or a nice, detailed focussed programme on news television (sadly, the concentration these days is on panel discussions). But the dramatic differences are: 1. Aamir Khan and 2. The way the call-to-actions and online media have been weaved in.

 

Every big star in Bollywood has been associated with social causes, and so’s Aamir. But given the movies that he’s been making over the years, his insistence on not accepting film awards, and more importantly his style of commitment and involvement with projects has worked towards building a unique aura around the man. Yes, there are many stories of directors exiting films or not wanting to be associated with projects that Aamir is involved but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. And if the final outcome of his films is any indication, I see nothing wrong with the star being aggressively active in the projects he has immersed himself in.

 

Will Satymev Jayate make a difference? Yes, it will. The female foeticide problem is now a national problem. Don’t be surprised if you find the Rajasthan Chief Minister making a statement soon. Or it turning into a political issue. I am sure forthcoming episodes of the show will be as well-researched. That’s something you can be sure an Aamir Khan productions show will guarantee.

 

It’s strong on the Emotional Quotient no doubt. I must confess I was much moved even though one is hardened by many such accounts as a journalist. I know of people sobbing almost uncontrollably in the first two segments, and it required an Aamir Khan to calm us down and get to action.

 

He does it so very well.

 

I am happy to learn that Star News (ABP News wef June 1) has tied up with Aamir to take the discussion forward after every episode.

 

What next? What do other GECs do to counter AK’s SJ? Or SMJ as the Twitter handle abbreviates it.

 

Since the season is going to last just 13 weeks, they just need to sit back and see how it unfolds. After all, the investments that Star has made are phenomenal and if it works for the channel, it would be nice to other GECs too trying something similar.

 

My hearty congratulations to Uday Shankar and his team at Star India for boldly doing what no private television network CEO has ever done before. I met Uday on the evening before the show at the Press Club awards and he appeared confident that it would work. He also praised the attention to detail by Aamir and said he hadn’t seen anything before.

 

I must confess I have been a little upset with Star for the way it has ignored many in the non-mass business and trade media on Satyamev Jayate. Sad. Perhaps we need an Aamir to champion our cause.

 

For me, what Satyamev Jayate has achieved is beyond just a victory for Star India, Uday Shankar or Aamir Khan. It’s a huge win for the Indian entertainment television sector. Activists, retired judges, commentators and politicians of all hues have dubbed it irresponsible. Not all of it is without reason. Also, for too long have entertainers said that non-fiction shows like Satyamev don’t work. If the mix and presentation are right, we’ve seen that it can. Even news channels which have been riding on primetime chatshows should feel encouraged to attempt documentaries and discussions that may not be very ratings friendly. I am certain if the programme quality is good, the ratings will happen.

 

Buzz/ping me if you have a story to tell. Confidentiality assured. There are various ways to do that: Mail: pradyumanm[at]mxmindia.com, BBM: 23050B5D, Gtalk: pradyumanm@gmail.com, Twitter: @pmahesh and the mobile: 98338 76278.

 

Disclaimer: Although he is CEO and Editor-in-Chief of this site, Pradyuman Maheshwari’s views in Mediaah! are not necessarily those of the rest of the team and MxMIndia.com.

 

Post a Comment 

2 responses to “Mediaah! Thank you, Star Plus. Thank you, Aamir Khan”

  1. Rosh says:

    Exactly a replica of The Oprah Winfrey Show, but nevamind, it doesnt matter if its one, but it does good, its an appreciable effort

  2. anonymous says:

    It would be interesting to find out how much money is being paid to Mr Khan to fight for this noble cause.