He tried to completely change our Sunday habits, and has probably not quite succeeded. At least, not yet.
A final verdict will probably have to wait till next Tuesday, when the full ratings of the Aamir Khan show Satyamev Jayate will be disclosed by TAM Media Research. Perhaps it may be better to even wait for a few more weeks to pass judgment, for who knows the show could pick up speed in future episodes.
But the preliminary results show that Khan has not quite weaned us off our recent Sunday routines, where congregating before the TV at 11 am is not a must-do activity for most urban families.
According to a report in Business Standard, Khan’s 6 May effort – despite huge publicity efforts and widespread advance editorial coverage in the media – got him a TV rating (TVR) of 2.9 across six metros. The failure, however, seems to be in the southern metros, for the TVR for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata is a more respectable 3.8.
Even so, says the newspaper, this does not compare too well with other “celebrity-hosted shows, the most significant being Amitabh Bachchan’s Kaun Banega Crorepati.
The newspaper quotes an unnamed media expert as saying: “The show’s ratings are lower than other celebrity-hosted reality shows. For instance, Sony’s Kaun Banega Crorepati Season 5 had opened with a TVR of 5.24, while Shah Rukh Khan’s Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain? opened around four. Akshay Kumar’s Khatron Ke Khiladi got 4.4 while Salman Khan’s Dus Ka Dum fetched 2.2.”
But let’s repeat the caveat: The TVR figure of 3.8 released mid-week covers only cable and satellite households in three metros in the Hindi-speaking markets (HSM) of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Final figures for the entire HSM will be released by TAM late on Tuesday night.
But even as we suspend judgment till fuller figures some in, doubts will linger over whether the Star TV show will recapture the magic of the Ramayan and Mahabharat days, when families used to congregate to watch those epic teleserials for the first time.
As Star CEO Uday Shankar told Mint: “Sunday morning historically has been a time when the family came together to watch iconic shows like Ramayan and Mahabharat. It is a time when the family can sit together and view content without distraction. The slot has been designed around the fact that this is one TV event that will compel the family to switch on their TV sets on a Sunday morning.”
The jury is out on whether a habit formed in the late 1980s, in a different socio-economic climate (we were in pre-reform India, and there was social ferment brewing over Mandal and Ramjanmabhoomi), can be re-created in the second decade of the 21st century when most urban families are either sleeping late or heading for the malls.
What the shows high media impact suggests is that Aamir Khan marketing skills have delivered well so far, and this skill will have to be sharpened more in the coming weeks as the initial novelty value wears off.
As Express TV critic Shailaja Bajpai points out, the show did not break any new ground on the subject of sex-selective abortions. She wrote: “So what’s new on Satyamev Jayate? In terms of theme, very little. TV news and documentaries have visited the site before, and the feature film Matrubhoomi is a chilling account of a country without women. TV serials have focused on injustices done to women for years: child marriage, domestic violence, rape, prostitution, even female infanticide — Na Aana is Des Laado (Colors), for instance.”
What sets Satyamev Jayate apart is its tight scripting and packaging, and Khan’s ability to exploit his superstardom, says Bajpai.
Khan has his work cut out to bring back the halcyon days of Ramayan and Mahabharat. Redefining what is TV prime-time will take some doing.