by Atiya Hasan – Houston, TX
The Oscar nominated movie Lagaan forever put Aamir Khan on our maps. It was his production company’s first movie and, boy, did he get it right. Since then he has become one of the most elusive and perplexing celebrities of Bollywood. He avoids all award ceremonies and manages to stay under the radar for months at a time. We haven’t seen much of him since his small acting role in Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries) which was his wife, Kiran Rao’s, directorial debut in 2010. However, this past Sunday, Aamir Khan managed to push another boundary.
For months now, there are has been a lot of speculation surrounding Khan’s upcoming TV show. Until recently, it was unheard of for successful Bollywood movie-actors to return to TV. That was until the rise of reality TV which displayed a wide range of well known celebrities, from the likes of Amitabh Bachchan to Shilpa Shetty hosting some sort of reality show. Most assumed that Aamir Khan had decided to go the same way but he managed to stay true to his reputation and do the unexpected.
Satayamev Jayate (SMJ), which translates to Truth Alone Prevails, aired its first episode on Star World this past Sunday at 11 AM (IST). Khan started the show by saluting mothers and their undeniable love for their children. In all his humility and sincerity, he went on to touch on the most despicable of illnesses that Indian society faces today: Female Infanticide. Khan’s guests were everyday women that had been victims to these societal ailments and he didn’t shy away from shedding a tear or two for their adversities. It was painful and uncomfortable to watch. It was an hour and a half of soul awakening stories punctuated by statistics and scientific proof mentioned by Khan. In true Lagaan style, he ended his show by professing his love for his country and countrymen. He made sure to remind all that these problems were everyone’s and even showed how everyone could get involved right away. As the screen darkened, there was not a dry eye in all of India.
In a country where movie stars are treated like royalty, celebrities have long been used to endorse products and companies. Khan, in all his brilliance, has figured out the formula to apply his celebrity status to endorse morality. Depicting reality in a Bollywood movie has been a known ingredient for disaster at the box office, but SMJ manages to pull back the rug to expose the dirt that has been brushed under it. Stories regarding female infanticide and the skewed gender ratios in many parts of India have always been pushed aside for the hard hitting journalists to deal with. Khan has the nation not only talking about it but poised and ready to do something about it. It is only through educating and informing that change can be achieved and it is only fitting that the perfectionist of Bollywood is the one exposing the imperfections.
You can watch the full episode on SMJ’s official YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1vASMbEEQc