By Shivangi Singh

You have seen him every Sunday this March with a concerned expression, calculated body language uttering a well-worded script. Aamir Khan’s ‘Satyamev Jayate’ doesn’t need any introduction. It is a show which has been marketed and branded as the show for the ‘citizens who care about the future of this country’. The aim is clear: to introduce the audience to a television show which talks about sensitive social issues like none other in the history of Indian television. However, how successful is this show in practical terms is worth mulling over.

‘Satyamev Jayate’, which stands for ‘Truth Only Prevails’ was started on 6th May 2012 with the aim of bringing to the fore blazing discrepancies prevailing in the Indian society. This show was one of its kind and marked the television debut of Bollywood actor Aamir Khan. The first season showcased a total of 14 episodes and was translated into eight Indian languages with a special screening for villages. It was simultaneously telecast on Doordarshan and different channels of the Star television network. The topics ranged from female foeticide, child sexual abuse, dowry system, medical malpractice, honor killings, domestic violence, organic farming, alcohol abuse, and casteism to the ill treatment of the elderly in the family and water crisis. The title sponsor Airtel and the co-sponsor Aqua Guard spent around INR 200 million for the show while the associate sponsors which included Coca Cola, Johnson and Johnson, Skoda Auto, Axis Bank, et al. spent close to INR 70 million on this show. The promotions for the first season were priced at INR 62.5 million which were reportedly the highest costing promotional campaign for any show on the Indian television. This was also the show which incurred highest expenditure by the Star television network. While the profits made by the show remained controversial with some journalists quoting Khan’s price per episode to be INR 3 Crores, the amount spent on the NGOs collected via public voting was out in the open.

Constructed in a talk-show format, the show brings together professionals and celebrities who talk about their experience with a particular social vice and how they dealt with it. Given the sensitive nature of the topics, several interviewees appear on the condition of anonymity and parental discretion is advised. Talking about his show Aamir has been quoted as saying, “This is a show about meeting the common man of India, connecting with India and its people. Through this show we understand the problems of the people; we are not here to make a change. I am no one to change anything. I feel understanding a problem and feeling it or holding one’s hand or hugging is also important. I may not have the solution, but at least I can hear and understand.” In the second season, which started on 2nd March 2014, four episodes have been telecast so far based on the following topics: Rape cases in India, the state of the Police service, waste management and corruption. As compared to the first season, the new season has witnessed better TRPs per episodes as of now. This trend can be mainly attributed to better awareness about the show as compared to the first season, which wasn’t publicized much before the show actually hit the screens. Also, after the first season, the fans as well as critics of the show were anxiously waiting for Mr. Perfectionist’s return to the small screen.

What is it that keeps the audience glued to this show? There can be various reasons. First, brand Aamir is a strong force. Popularly tagged as ‘Mr. Perfectionist’, Aamir is known to create cinema with a difference. His movies with a social message such as ‘Taare Zameen Pe’, ‘Rang De Basanti’, ‘Sarfarosh’, ‘3 Idiots’, etc. have not only gone down well with the critics but have also created several box office benchmarks. Another reason for the success of the show is its unique nature. ‘Satyamev Jayate’ is a weekly dosage of medicine packaged in a nice wrapper. It’s the first ever social initiative on the idiot box which is commercial as well as democratic in its operation. The success of this show speaks volumes about the changing television audience who are sick and tired of watching predictable plots of Saas-Bahu daily dramas. In a space congested with glycerin shedding heroines and loud make-up donning vamps, ‘Satyamev Jayate’ is the dawn of change. Its large fan following suggests that people want change, are sensitive to the social evils prevalent in India, want to vote for change and don’t mind spending precious one and a half hour of their only holiday in the week watching a something that aims to throw light on what’s wrong with the country and how it can be fixed. Can there be better news in the light of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections?

As a proud Army daughter and a B.Tech graduate, who let go of corporate jobs in order to dedicate myself fully to the service of the society, by joining an NGO and blogging about social issues, it’s my most cherished dream to see India progress, prosper and become a developed country ASAP. I have worked extensively with online media platforms and start-ups. Read my thoughts at:http://shivangi-coolchicsmashing17.blogspot.com. Mail me at: shivangisingh1808@gmail.com

Posted by The Indian Economist | For the Curious Mind