Aamir Khan's Satyamev Jayate: Doordarshan like imitation of Oprah Show
One had feared this. Satyamev Jayate, the one and a half hour TV debut of Aamir Khan, seems to be a poor imitation of an 'Oprah Show' sans its spontaneity, aplomb, and gripping quality. It looked and sounded like a slightly better produced Doordarshan talk show.
It is an issue-based show and the first episode was a deliberately designed tearjerker. It lacked the edginess, passion, and zeal of a social crusader and in terms of its content and appeal could not transcend beyond a Bollywood celebrity's endorsement of an important issue like female feticide.
It merely establishes a star's association with a heart-rending cause. And if the show is supposed to be driven by Aamir's personal anguish and passion, there was no evidence of that in it. It looked as if the Guru was trying to use his marketing genius and PR skills to promote his favorite cause.
The biggest drawback of the episode was its 'political correctness' and 'in your face' design and structure as if everyone was following a pre-determined script and a plan, from the audience to the host, the director, the editor and the cameramen. It did not have that 'live' feel, which is crucial to the success of these shows. The opening speech of Aamir almost sounded like a Doordarshan's talk show host's introduction to a subject. It was pathetic.
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The show even failed to explore the issue beyond the known facts. It was a one-sided dialogue with no room for a counter-point and meaningful discourse. This clearly diluted its probable impact. Instead of a talk show, it turned out to be a TV Infomercial.
The saturation advertising, publicity, and wide telecast of the show covering Star Network and Doordarshan have not helped it find a large audience base. One has serious doubts if there will be enough 'word-of-mouth' recommendations after the inaugural episode to raise the awareness level about it. One also wonders why Aamir Khan is maintaining so much secrecy about the show after the cat is already out of the bag. He should have announced the subject of the next episode in the form of a trailer to get the TV audiences interested in it.
If Aamir expected the media to talk about his show and deliberate extensively over it to publicize the issue, he was mistaken. Why should TV channels that are not part of the Star network promote a Star show and serve its commercial cause? If he really wanted to promote the cause, he should have advised Star to share the feed free of charge to every other channel and have a revenue sharing arrangement with them.
It was a disappointing TV debut that was termed by the perfectionist star as his most ambitious project. He should have worked harder on this with true passion and zeal of a crusader, with less reliance on his marketing and PR skills. He should not have treated this as yet another feather in his cap of successes. He keeps talking about his heart; one could see an overflow of tears in his show, yet there was very little there that looked truly heartfelt. The fact that the incidence of female feticide is less among the poor and illiterate could have been highlighted more. The linkages of growing consumerism and the heinous act could have been established. There was so much more that could have been done instead of singing songs and wasting precious TV time.
(Rajesh Kumar Singh is Editorial Consultant for Festivals and Markets for BollywoodTrade.com. He is a filmmaker, critic and market analyst)