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Truth Be Damned

Truth Be Damned

June 26, 2012

"Female foeticide is such a big social issue in India that India's Oprah is a guy." - (courtesy Facebook friend)



Are we bored with our lives? Do we need to turn on the television to tell us where we're headed, whether North or South? And lastly, which is the biggest problem that we face in our everyday lives; ignorance, lies or inaction?

I appreciate Aamir's ‘honest’ efforts to highlight and eradicate the perils faced by the ‘common man’. A show that reaches out to the masses through various channels on a Sunday morning; Perfect timing for the common man to finish his brunch, check his facebook account (comment/like/share) and tune in to watch "Truth alone prevails." I have watched a couple of episodes, and my wife has filled me with the details of the rest. Honestly, I do enjoy the songs at the end but nothing more to it. I have never watched the Oprah Winfrey Show either, but I hold that lady and her show in high esteem (I can hear the murmurs of American television being more prominent than our desi ones). Only because her life has seen the facets of darkness that would put fiction to shame.

Aamir Khan is a great actor, and we applaud his ability to ‘be different’ and create movies that reach out to the masses; a dyslexic child (Taare Zameen Par), the idiosyncrasy of our orthodox education framework (3 Idiots), and the voice of youth against corruption (Rang De Basanti). Perhaps, our admiration has reached the limit to where we shout, pump our fists and have an adrenaline rush seeing Aamir's bash the bad guys. I wonder if we ever discussed Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan as much as we discuss AK's efforts on screen. The former didn't have a TRP rating, only a 21-gun salute and he was forgotten (apart from the occasional updates on fb).

There is no other country in the world that enjoys movies and the life of their superstars as much as India does (probably Americans as well). And at times, we tend to look at reel life rather than real life for motivation. Our personal life stories are drawn on the lines of a KKHH or DDLJ. So when our superstars step down to the common man's mantle, it's their screen image that's portrayed in our minds; How Sanjay Dutt became the epitome of Gandhian principles after a couple of Lage raho Munnabhai movies is food for thought.

I do understand that I'm going overboard with my criticism, but a look at the financial structuring of this program seemed to back me. The sponsorship deal of this series is only 24.99 crore (Dhobi Ghat was made at a measly budget of 10 cr) and a 10-second advertising slot costs 10 lakh. The show's producers include Aamir and Kiran. And Aamir (supposedly) charges Rs. 3 crore for each episode (wiki). I understand that it requires funding for a such a high-scale television program, but isn't it supposed to be a service for the public? Whose coffers are getting filled?

I didn't watch the episode pertaining to medical malpractice but I could feel the hurt within a few medical practitioners whom I know. For a life saved, they get a ‘thank you’ and for one lost, hospitals are demolished and doctors, assaulted. Didn't we outsource the life-death scenario to God? So why sacrifice the poor doctors? Doctors are only professionals like Engineers. The hours spent in saving lives contributes to the service they offer, not the living they make out of it. And about selling generic medicines as brands, isn't everything related to making money? Don't our nation's politicians flag-bearers do the same?

After the first episode, I felt elated. I imagined this to be the change that our society deserved. But the surrealistic feeling came to an early demise on Monday morning when I read the papers. And it worsened over the week. Because nothing changed. The feeling was similar to the one after I watched a movie, eventually high hopes and lost causes.

"Truth alone triumphs; not falsehood. Through truth the divine path is spread out by which the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled, reach where that supreme treasure of Truth resides."

Go ahead, Aamir. As you termed it, ‘this is only a baby step’ to making change. We will wait till the day you take on the really up-scale bad guys. No one should be spared, be it high-profile politicians, industrialists, sportsmen or media. And then we'll stand up and salute the actor who likes doing things differently. And yeah, Mrs. Ambani can as well let out her $1 billion house to the victims of all these atrocities. Practice what you preach, life is beyond IPL and films.

"Lets play truth or dare Or just dare because Nobody tells the truth anymore" - One Tree Hill


22 Comments

  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    13.07.12 02:05 PM
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2172235/Arsenal-unveil-new-purple-2012-13-away-kit.html

    to fellow gunner

    If you are planing to buy this kit, then don't forget pom poms to go with it as well.

    HARRY
  • Sajeesh
    By
    Sajeesh
    11.07.12 01:35 AM
  • Sanjana
    By
    Sanjana
    04.07.12 12:36 PM
    I don't watch the show as I read more than enough about it from blogs like IndianHomeMaker and none of the stuff he talks about is news to me. I've watched a couple of episodes is all.

    I don't even like Aamir Khan in general, I still think what he's doing is a pretty good move to make the Indians more aware of their country and its shortcomings. Believe me, people are not aware of how the situation in India is like. They think that female foeticide is either a thing of the past or a thing that only happens in villages.
    Not everyone travels across the country to find out how bad the situation actually is. Sure, he's making money off it, so what?
    He's not making money off it by medical malpractice or by demanding dowry or doing anything else illegal.

    Our country, as you rightly said, is highly susceptible to reel life and is motivated by it. So if something like this on TV can at least make the ignorant more aware of what is going on and maybe think twice, well why not?!
  • Abey
    By
    Abey
    29.06.12 12:55 AM
    Oh crap. Another Amir Khan dis. Big picture people. We live in the market economy. Amir Khan is leveraging it to make a teeny weeny nudge in the direction in which Ram Public thinks. Good for him. It is better than the circle jerk that a group of certified social worker pundits will indulge in. This has a real shot at making a change however tiny. Tiny lever opening big doors and all that. People listen to celebrity. It makes them pause for thought. That's enough of a wedge for someone else to widen...
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    27.06.12 09:00 PM
    Such huge show to get one Parent, one Mother and one Farmer to do the right thing out of 1.22 billion people is some achievement?

    IMHO is ridiculous waste of time and energy.
  • NiX
    By
    NiX
    27.06.12 06:58 PM
    Well written, Sajeesh, although I would rather side with Stuart's view on this than your's! Sorry - strangely enough everybody has their own views, dont they!!! :) Anyhow, great effort! Baby steps to finally accomplishing your dream of writing a book! All the best!
  • Writerzblock
    By
    Writerzblock
    27.06.12 04:48 PM
    I think the show is an excellent attempt to openly talk about things that plague our country. Like you said, it would be nice if Aamir and team could take on the bad guys. That would really take this effort to a completely different level.

    But IMHO, the aim of the show is not to eradicate all evil, but primarily to make us (the common man) more aware and conscious of it and try to protect ourselves.

    Fighting the big bad guys is not going to happen in a severely corrupt and politically challenged country!

    At the bare minimum level, even if one parent makes his child conscious of abuse, if even one mother decides to save the life of her infant girl, if even one farmer decides to reduce the use of pesticide.. I think the show has still achieved something.
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    26.06.12 11:23 PM
    To reduce that Gap Arsenal just finalised signing of the French Olivier Giroud. Wenger says at 6ft 3ins Giroud has a very good physical presence and is exceptional in the air. (might help Kingfisher)

    I hope he reduces the gap by horizontal positioning in the Arsenal defense and Giroud confirms he is a player who wants to play and likes to participate in the game. Only hitch he says he needs time to adapt but also has weapons what ever that means.

    If only England had the same motivation?
  • Britul
    By
    Britul
    26.06.12 11:00 PM
    I do not agree with your perception on the whole issue. Perhaps, you are highlighting more on the negative aspects of it. As we already know that nothing is perfect in this world, so is Amir and his so called baby step “Satyamev jayate”. Whatever has the society received from the show in terms of awareness or anything else, is an unexpected and additional benefit.
  • Sajeesh
    By
    Sajeesh
    26.06.12 10:31 PM
    @Harry - good one :)
    Answer is C: The Kingfisher airlines grounded in most airports :D
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    26.06.12 09:34 PM
    @ Sajeesh

    Everybody pretty much said what I wanted to say.

    To break this Issue I will tell you a joke:- Which is two things, that can be seen from the space,........ A:- Great wall of china ..... B:- A GAP IN ARSENAL DEFENCE. :) :)
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    26.06.12 07:12 PM
    Go ahead, Aamir. As you termed it, ‘this is only a baby step’ to Making the Change. We only hope the baby will get past its infancy and have lots followers in its philanthropic footsteps to make the change that every one is talking about and no one else making the first step. Its your baby.

    You sure do have plenty of fans but you are not able to move them to commitments needed for the real change. We watch your movies, we admire your courage and the things you do to change the mindsets of your audience and at the end wait for your next movie that sure will be another hit. Don’t forget the songs, melodies last longer in our hearts than the story.

    You keep us inspired by your bravado and hope one-day India would change. Is it only you who should practice what you preach?
  • Sajeesh
    By
    Sajeesh
    26.06.12 03:04 PM
    Stuart,
    The Gooner one was quite sly yet lame :). A sports-person is different from a celebrity for various reasons. If Aamir had dedicated his life only for society, it remains perfectly fine (as any ordinary person). But, if the ulterior motive is to brand himself - it doesn't make any sense. If John Terry contributed to social causes and then slept with his best-friend's wife, would it make sense?
    Let's for a moment assume that Sanjay Dutt anchored this show. Would we have the same take on it? Or, would it be a different viewpoint?
    On the lighter side, Rakhi ka insaaf should be given as much importance as satyameva jayate :)
  • Stuti
    By
    Stuti
    26.06.12 02:04 PM
    Amir is of course not doing a charity work. And we should not judge him personally as he is of course not as sensitive as he is acting in the show (Looking to his personal life also we can know that he is not so sensitive), afterall he is an actor. But we should just pay heed to the topics and try to know the facts of the topics. Why to indulge in SMSs and all? Just inhale the good and exhale the unnecessary.
  • Stuart
    By
    Stuart
    26.06.12 01:33 PM
    " Either Aamir makes movies, or gets into social causes. "

    Sorry, I still don't see why it has to be one or the other. Promoting social causes through the medium of TV will not prevent him making movies, nor does any positive spinoff for Talaash make him a hypocrite. It's not the same as Sachin, because sport and politics are two very different endeavours, and doing them both at the same time would be logistically challenging. In Aamir's case, his social activism is in the entertainment field, he's using his skillset for more than solely personal gain.

    As a fellow Gooner, do you protest when leading Arsenal players support charities and other social causes? Indeed, if any ordinary person on the street is free to pursue social activism AND other work, why not Aamir? He has gained wealth and fame from the support of ordinary people, and now he's using those advantages to help promote causes of importance to the people who put him where he is, what is wrong with that?

    I mean this sincerely as a question - I genuinely cannot understand why it is seen as mutually exclusive, do one, or the other, but don't try to do both. I would love to know why this view is so widespread, as the amount of criticism he's received suggests that it is. Also, on the "Indian Oprah" thing, there's a very nice summary of that's a put down of both Aamir and Oprah here:
    http://filmigirl.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/satyamev-jayate-entering-no-irony-zone.html
  • Jyoti Agarwal
    By
    Jyoti Agarwal
    26.06.12 01:28 PM
    @Sajeesh,

    I understand the point you are trying to make here. However, just because Aamir is not a social worker, we see his efforts as a matter of hypocrisy is not what I agree to.

    I come from a small town in Orissa where still more than half of the population rely on rice farming for their livelihood. It is a truth that non of the government subsidies reaches them and there condition is not very pleasant. But not Aamir nor any other person advocating usage or organic farming is responsible for that. We all know how corrupt our politicians are and who is responsible for disappearance of all the money allocated to agriculture, but still if a small step is taken by any of them, we (actually they) can't stop praising it. So, why not efforts of a celebrity Indian.
  • Rickie Khosla
    By
    Rickie Khosla
    26.06.12 01:27 PM
    Hi Sajeesh,

    Great read and I appreciate your point of view.

    My own is that making money and doing something socially relevant need not be mutually exclusive. Ok, so, Aamir doesn't want to talk about corrupt politicians. But if he talks about female foeticide and medical malpractices, and makes money while he does so, doesn't that make him a socially-aware-shrewd-businessman-who-knows-his-limits? Our country appears to lack even those in decent numbers.

    Perhaps at some point Aamir will turn to politics (or whatever) and make a bigger difference. But whatever he is doing at this point is still more than most of us are.

    Cheers,
    Rickie
  • Mary
    By
    Mary
    26.06.12 11:23 AM
    Only someone of his stature cud stand the negative criticism and I am glad he has the confidence to go beyond the rebuttals! I admire his guts and grit!
  • Sajeesh
    By
    Sajeesh
    26.06.12 10:40 AM
    *Correction
    Farming communities in Andhra and Kerala won't make it through.
  • Sajeesh
    By
    Sajeesh
    26.06.12 10:34 AM
    Stuart,
    My take on this is reasonable. Either Aamir makes movies, or gets into social causes. And the reason is similar to why the critics expect Sachin to either continue with cricket or focus on the Upper House events. When Aamir's movie releases a few months from now (a thriller), how do you expect it to perform at the box office?

    Jyothi,
    Thank you for reiterating my point. Btw, have you ever tried farming or spoken to any farming community? When the person on stage spoke of a 10% drop in his initial year of organic farming, I couldn't believe it. Most farming communities in Andhra and Kerala make it through if they had a dip like that. The point to be made was "where does all the money that is allocated for agriculture disappear?"
    If Aamir was only a social worker who took even the smallest of strides, I can totally accept the efforts. Else, it remains hypocrisy.
  • Jyoti Agarwal
    By
    Jyoti Agarwal
    26.06.12 10:14 AM
    I completely agree with Stuart. Aamir is no magician who can change the world (India)overnight. At least he is doing his efforts. I don't see anything wrong in making money. We all are business people and as you yourself said in your article -
    "isn’t everything related to making money? Don’t our nation’s politicians flag-bearers do the same?"
    So, what is wrong if Aamnir is doing the same. At least his show is not based on just showcasing what is wrong with the society. Instead a lot of research has gone into bringing intricate details, real life scenarios, and most importantly in making us understand that there is a way out to everything - be it selling generic medicine or the best way to do organic farming. I am sure a lot of Indian parents and brides are now aware of the passport seizing rules of NRI grooms who leave their wives behind after taking all the bribe. I can see the change here.

    All in all, every tiny step is appreciate in bringing a change to the society and so are Aaamir's efforts.
  • Stuart
    By
    Stuart
    26.06.12 06:43 AM
    This was very civilly written, which certainly distinguishes it from others of the same theme. As an outsider, I'm left bemused at this insistence that the show is fundamentally either pointless, a con job/ego trip or both. The fact that an actor of his stature is doing such show should be worth something. My understanding is that the TRPs aren't great, so it likely wouldn't be on air at all if if were fronted by anyone other than Aamir.

    As for his personal take, he's never pretended it was a charitable exercise. That said, he could have made a lot more money, and avoided all the negative press, if he'd done a KBC or KWK type show. Instead, he does a show that is not perfect (the medical malpractice one, for example) but does ask questions that need asking.

    It strikes me as sad that if Aamir had done the easy thing and fronted some totally vapid, pointless celebrity show, he would not have received any of the sort of negative press he gets from articles like this one. Yes, he's an actor, so yes some of it's stagey and a lot of it is about his ego, but he did not have to expose himself to the backlash he's getting. His crime, it seems is stepping outside the accepted boundaries of a celebrity's role.

    The other thing that I find interesting is the facile dismissal of the show for not daring to "take on the really up-scale bad guys." It seems to be zero-sum equation in the minds of most critics of the show - "he's not tackling ALL societal evils, therefore, the whole show is a worthless fraud".

    It's clear that the show is not going to be some magic panacea, inciting it's very own Rang De Basanti moment, but that doesn't make it pointless, nor does it make Aamir a hypocritical phony for getting it made. The message that because he can't fix everything, he shouldn't try to do anything is one that seems truly bizarre to me. For me personally, my respect for him as a person went up considerably after seeing what he's done and what it's cost him, even just in terms of negative publicity like this article, which is by far the kindest and least personally denigratory of its kind that I've read.

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