mir Khan’s reality show on TV Satyamev Jayate has become a talking point for all the wrong reasons. The first episode on female foeticide with indepth research and real victims involved had undoubtedly created a first-of-its-kind impression on viewers. But when Aamir Khan chose to visit Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to make an appeal to fast-track cases involving female foeticide the script ran out of sync with the public perception.
Firstly, there have so much debate on who is using whom for publicity. Even though the Congress government in Rajasthan led by Ashok Gehlot has been the most nondescript government in the history of the state, there is no expectation from any quarters that the reality show will make any impact on the working of the government in controlling female foeticide. Rajasthan accounts for the largest number of female foeticide in the country today.
But when questions are asked if Ashok Gehlot is getting free publicity and piggy-riding on Aamir Khan’s popularity it should be clearly understood that right now the reality show, its promoters and the TV channel need the publicity, and not the other way round. Aamir Khan sought Ashok Gehlot’s appointment for a meeting and then called for a press conference which was expectedly well-attended. It should be clear that Aamir Khan needs to deliver to the sponsors of the programme, and hence the publicity, the flash bulbs and TV coverage are good for the programme. After all, the financial stakes are at historic highs for a programme like Satyamev Jayate. Ashok Gehlot can well ignore female foeticide going on his state as it is one of the most uncomfortable truths of his non-performance.
Second, as many of the NGOs involved in fighting the menace of female foeticide all over the country say, the efforts have to be concerted and consistent. Killing of female foetus is so rampant and uncontrolled that even the central government led by Ms Sonia Gandhi is not able to do anything effective. The movement against female foeticide has to be akin to Anna Hazare movement against corruption where the members keep harping on the subject at every forum and opportunity and even blackball the government into submission over a long period of time. Will Aamir Khan ever follow up with either the Rajasthan government or with other authorities after the show has ended?
Aamir Khan’s attempts at the raising the pitch through his TV reality show Satyamev Jayate is purely commercial. Consider these facts – Satyamev Jayate is the highest grosser today on TV even bigger than any other reality show based on music and dance. Media reports about Aamir Khan being paid Rs 3-crore per episode only puts paid to the fact that there is nothing more than one-upmanship, revenue generation and business deals at play here. Will Aamir Khan ever talk about female feoticide once the money has come into his accounts?
In April 2006 Aamir Khan with a lot of pomp and glory picked up cudgels against the Gujarat government on Narmada dam issue as a precursor to the release of his film Fanaa. But a few days later when his antecedents were questioned by the media especially about his endorsement of Coca Cola, he went on to do special ads for the company to clear its name from accusations of pesticides found in the drink. All for a price!
Earlier, when Shekhar Gupta on NDTV got him as a guest for his programme, Aamir Khan went to explain his life and letters with unparalleled felicity. But in the middle of the interview he broke into a tirade against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi even though the question on Gujarat was never asked to him.
The fact remains that reality shows on TV are all about teary-eyed anchors and ever-obliging audience who would perform a tandav if they would get their 15 minutes of fame. And Congress chief ministers like Ashok Gehlot will piggy ride on a TV programme’s popularity because they have no other way to prove their performance. While the TV channels, the programme producers and anchors will go laughing all the way to the bank even as the victims of various nefarious crimes against women will be just mute onlookers to the grand-standing by movie stars like Aamir Khan.