What Satyamev Jayate turned its back to

Piyasree Dasgupta

Jul,30 2012 16:48 16 IST

Satyamev Jayate, like one particularly punkish boy in an oh-so-grunge black tee says in a new promo, has spoken about things no one in TV ever has. “I never knew anything about caste or untouchables. Thanks to Aamir Khan, I now know,” says boy, peeking solemnly out of a forehead full of hair.

You might want to ask which school he went to or worse still, how he was never caught dozing off in the history class, but no one questions Satyamev Jayate. Not unless you’re ready to be written off as Shah Rukh Khan’s cronies or just another sad person trying his shot at fame by taking potshots at Aamir Khan. After all, Aamir Khan is being attributed the sole claim at bringing brutal realities of Indian living into TV and purging the box off its idiocy.

Did Satyamev Jayate choose topics that lend themselves to drama?

He has talked about child sexual abuse, about female foeticide, dowry, khap panchayat, hospitals, old age, water and poisonous pesticide infected crops we gorge on everyday.  He has shed calculated amounts of tears, nodded, eyes-closed to stirring Ram Sampath numbers and has pushed Anna Hazare out of his throne of social reformer extraordinaire, overnight. However, the question still remains, did Satyamev Jayate, touted the harbinger of change, choose issues most immediate, most central to India?

True, it’s difficult to run a television series with episodic restrictions (SMJ had 13 episodes) and yet address the oddball of miseries that our country is completely, but has Satyamev Jayate turned its spotlights on what was of pressing importance in a country like ours? Or did it just choose its topics judging their dramatic potential, something that translates into a non-risqué TRP guzzling script on a weekend show?  

To be fair, while SMJ might have intended the former, it couldn’t let the latter out of sight. As a result, while there was the need of episodes like the one on child sexual abuse or the maltreatment of patients, it was also important that the show, which claimed to ‘do justice’, to look at things blatantly practiced and rampant in our country – child labour, trafficking, child marriage. Or maybe how poverty is perpetuated due to a corrupt ration distribution system everyday, how half the country’s BPL population don’t get cards and why drop-outs in government schools never seem to go down?

Change can’t possibly exclude the grassroots – a social stratum where a television is possibly not even in the list of priorities. News channels, newspapers, magazines etc have cried themselves hoarse over the above mentioned issues for years – could it possibly be why something as obvious as denied education didn’t make the cut for SMJ and it's brand of 'exclusive'? Or was it because, most middle class homes and SMJ’s audience don’t blink twice before getting an under-age domestic help, hence this was something that the show could do without? Maybe the PDS circus is something that doesn’t lend itself to adequate melodrama? Or talking about HIV and how thousands quietly suffer from it, might  not go down well with Sunday breakfast with the family?

We were tempted to believe in SMJ's claims. What we got was just Aamir Khan's picture-perfect TV debut. 

Published Date: Jul 30, 2012 16:48 PM | Updated Date: Jul 31, 2012 12:19 PM