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February 27, 2014

Satyamev Jayate 2 timed to coincide with polls, says teary Aamir Khan


It has been a little over a year since we saw Aamir Khan in his talk show host avatar on Indian television screens. However, he is all set to return to the small screen. With Satyamev Jayate 2 ready to premiere on 2 March, Khan disclosed a resolution he’d made for this second season: there would be less tears from the host himself. 

Yet, a few minutes after chuckling about how “a section of people felt that I cried too much”, Khan was reduced to tears while recounting a story that was aired on the first season of Satyamev Jayate. Wiping his tears on the sleeve of his shirt, Khan quipped, “See? The channel didn't tell me to cry…”

 After the success of the first season of Satyamev Jayate, Khan has been called the Oprah Winfrey of Indian television. People have also asked if he’s adopted the role of an activist. The actor is very clear about what he’s out to do with his television show. “I see myself as a communicator,” said Khan. “I think saying that I am a motivator or a changer is too audacious a statement. If I am able to change myself, that is a big thing. I am just trying to engage, understand and share.”


With multi channels tie-up and simulcast in seven different languages, Satyamev Jayate will reach nearly 600 million people in India, which means one in two Indians who own television will be listening to Khan the communicator. The actor isn’t shy of using Satyamev Jayate to raise socio-political issues that he feels need to be discussed. “If we want a healthy democracy, then internal vigilance is the price for it,” said Khan, who maintains that he has no interest in becoming a politician. “If you do not do that than you are letting go of your rights as a citizen.” 

Khan admitted that the timing of the new season — it will run alongside the campaigns for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections — wasn’t a coincidence. In his own words, the show has been “timed well”. Satyamev Jayate seems to be reveling in its potential to impact and spark national debates. Considering the widespread reach of television programming today as well as the show’s stellar ratings in its first run, Khan may not be overstating Satyamev Jayate’s importance. 

It wouldn’t be surprising if the show’s topics of discussion are echoed in political addresses. The possibility of aiding or abetting political rivalries doesn’t bother Khan because as far as he’s concerned, he’s simply providing information. “I have empowered you with so much of information,” he said. “What have you done with that?” 

When asked to name the social issues closest to his heart, the actor said, “The two issues that I would like to support and endorse are empowerment of women and ‘the collective’. ” Explaining his choices, he said, “Women’s empowerment will be a game changer for our societies. Sociologically, a woman becomes the centre of the household and plays a very important role in a child’s life so by empowering women you empower a family, a society, a state and therefore a country.” By “the collective”, Khan is referring to developing a sense of solidarity and fraternity among Indians. “It is very important that we work in a team. Only when we work as a team or a collective do we all prosper,” he said. 

A promo for season two shows Khan spotting honest men on the road (like the ones who don’t break traffic signal, even when no one’s watching) and saying that these are the kind of people who will watch the show. The show’s tagline this season is “Jinhe desh ki fikr hai” (“For those who care for the country), which makes you wonder: since when did watching television become a patriotic act? 

This moral high ground of Khan and the makers of the show hasn’t made Satyamev Jayate any less commercial. The makers of the show may say Satyamev Jayate isn’t about revenues, but the truth remains that it’s yet another blockbuster Aamir Khan production. Each episode of the new season has reportedly cost Rs 6.2 crore (this includes Khan’s fee as well), which is the budget of a small film. The ad rates for Satyamev Jayate, which were already stratospheric, are up by 8-10 % this time around, reports Mint. The deal with title sponsor Bharti Airtel is being pegged at approximately Rs 18-20 crore and the Axis Bank deal is worth Rs 13 crore, adds the newspaper.

 Cynics may say he is making a fortune shedding crocodile tears, but watching Khan talk about the show, how committed he is to it and what he hopes it will achieve, it’s impossible to doubt Khan’s credibility. He truly is moved by the stories that Satyamev Jayate has uncovered and as he talked about them, his throat frequently choked with emotion. It could have been a hammy sequence from a Bollywood film and perhaps it’s because we’ve seen so many bombastic performances in political rallies, but Khan doesn’t look like he’s acting.

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