In a throwback to the Doordarshan days of Ramayan and Mahabharat, India tuned in on Sunday morning to the first episode of Aamir Khan’s television debut. t2 tracked Satyameva Jayate, Indian small screen’s most-awaited launch since Kaun Banega Crorepati.
What is Satyameva Jayate about: A hush-hush project from the time it was launched in October 2011, Satyameva Jayate turned out to be just what Aamir had denied all along. A show on social issues in the Oprah Winfrey mould — dwelling on a topic that afflicts society in general and looking to find a solution — with its heart in the right place.
Running into 90 minutes, the first episode was on female foeticide, striving to lift the veil off the practice that plagues both rural and urban India. Real-life accounts, interactions with doctors, a sting operation and chats with the common men and women of India as a live audience that laughed and cried summed up Satyameva Jayate.
What Aamir had told t2 at the show’s launch last October: “I actually haven’t watched much of Oprah but from whatever little I have seen, I can tell you that I am not making anything like that. One thing that I can tell you is that it is not an activist show. We have decided that we will break all rules”.
What Aamir had told STAR Ananda last week: “It’s a show for every Indian… It’s been a very emotional journey… a roller-coaster ride. I am hoping that when people watch this show, they are equally moved emotionally. I hope the show touches them at a very deep level.”
Emotional quotient: Episode one targeted the tear ducts, with the live audience often seen wiping away a tear when young mothers narrated horror stories of forced abortions. Aamir himself broke down a couple of times on the show.
Audience connect: Estimated to have reached out to a cumulative audience of 400 million — a first for Indian television, Satyameva Jayate was simulcast on Doordarshan, STAR World, STAR Jalsha, STAR Utsav, STAR Vijay, STAR Pravah, ETV Telugu and Asianet, besides STAR Plus. While the exact viewership ratings will take about a week, sources in the STAR network say that early trends indicate that Satyameva Jayate has the potential to even surpass the ratings of the first season of Kaun Banega Crorepati. Season I of the Amitabh Bachchan-hosted show had opened with a TVR (television viewership rating) in excess of 4 and had beamed on STAR Plus before shifting to Sony two seasons ago.
With advertising spots sold at a premium — according to estimates, rates skyrocketed to Rs 12 lakh per 10 seconds — the STAR network played the same ads across all the channels showing Satyameva Jayate, thereby ensuring maximum impact. The cost of each episode — the show will have 13 in all — is estimated at Rs 4 crore while Aamir’s fee per episode is Rs 3 crore, the highest so far on Indian television.
Twitter buzz: Within minutes of its telecast, Satyameva Jayate was all over Twitter. #Satyameva Jayate, #Aamir Khan, #Female foeticide, #STAR Plus, #smj, #Doordarshan, #Oprah and #SMS Y to 5782711 were some of the show-related hashtags that were the top trends through Sunday. The mood on the micro-blogging site was summed up by user Bin_daas: “#Satyamev Jayate — a great team and a good leader can create history. Truly bowled over!”
I love this effort from him & thank him as a woman!
Watching Aamir Khan’s TV show on female foeticide. SUPERB. Bravo Aamir... What a huge service you are doing.
I always wanted something like this on TV. Thank you Aamir for stirring a people that Sundays are “lazy” 4 and “others” problems are not theirs.
What KBC did to game shows on Indian television, #SatyamevJayate will do to Indian news television.
@aamir_khan Absolutely the best program I have seen on TV in recent past. Thank you for converting an idiot box into an inspirational medium.