The battle between good and evil is back on Sunday morning television with Aamir Khan's latest
There was a time when Sunday mornings were dedicated to watching Ramayan and Mahabharat on television. The entire family sat together as mythological heroes and demons battled it out; in the end, it was always good that triumphed over evil.
That was almost two decades ago.
Cut to the present — Hindi cinema's ‘Mr. Perfectionist' has set out to recapture that receptive audience. Aamir Khan's television debut is as ambitious as his movie outings. As he says in the promos of Satyameva Jayate, he intends to “ignite the fire” in society about pressing issues.
Noble intention, one would comment, given that his fellow superstars chose more straightforward entertainment formats to appear on the small screen — programmes with a mass appeal. Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan chose Kaun Banega Crorepati, while several others chose celebrity chat and game shows.
But the makers of Satyameva Jayate seem to have got tangled in a time warp as far as content and presentation are concerned. For the discerning audience that the ‘idiot box' has today, the programme presents problems such as female infanticide, dowry harassment and child abuse (the three issues addressed till the episode aired on May 20) as old wine in a new bottle.
Following an educational format, the only new thing here is perhaps that an A-list star is the ‘educator'.
Satyameva Jayate, with a title as contrived as that, is an aspiring tear-jerker. The victims who are ready to share their tragic tales on national television successfully set streams rolling down the cheeks of members of the audience.
One must admit that the case studies are fairly well-researched. But, one also wonders why it took an Aamir Khan to enlighten the public about the cases, given that they are aired on news channels all the time.
Makings of a blockbuster
The programme is also reminiscent of the series of ‘TV adalats', such as Aap ki kachehri (with Kiran Bedi) and Aamna saamna.
Satyameva Jayate seems to have its heart in the right place, though. It strikes the right chord in some aspects. For instance, the show talks to the audience in a language they adore — filmy.
Catchy songs, occasional celebrity appearances, pre and post-episode buzz (after the first episode on female infanticide, Khan met the Rajasthan Chief Minister urging him to look into the matter) — there are all the ingredients necessary for a blockbuster.
The show has opened to mixed reviews but good TRPs. Obviously, stars still sell, and they can sell anything.
It did take a Hindi film personality after all to evoke the conscience of people towards deep seated problems. However, it remains to be seen whether good will win over evil this time around.