Weepy Aamir won't change a thing

Shruti asks, 'Just out of curiosity what is your stand on 'Satyameva Jayate' ? They are most definitely talking about sensitive issues but my question is whether they can keep up interest of the people, or will it wash away like the Anna Hazare craze, or will it make an impact?'

Two issues here. One, can slickly presenting social issues on the idiot box with much weeping (or any other screen) sensitise society towards those very issues? Two, must it?

To answer the first one, no. A society's outlook changes only if there's a groundswell change at an individual level. Such a change won't happen because people witness a weepy Aamir, and a few heart rending stories on screen. Such change can only be piloted through 'sensitised' upbringing. The conditioning that an individual undergoes whilst young, shapes his character. Meaning if you want Indians to treat the girl child, or a lady better, get every parent in India to teach their children respect for women while they grow up. Again such sensitisation cannot be localised to a single issue. It must become generic in its application and practice. Meaning, as a parent I can't only teach my children respect for women. I must also teach them to treat every person with dignity. I must teach them what is 'civility'.

Sadly, that I believe wishful thinking in India. Take the Caste system for example. To me, the practice of deeming someone lower than myself is abhorrent. Yet such practice finds social sanction in India. No matter how much we protest, truth is, caste based discrimination is alive and kicking. So is the practice of discrimination against women. What's worse is that it plays out all around us. Such persistent all-round sanctioned practice kills the very possibility of sensitisation of the masses.

Sure, Aamir's program will see the masses wringing their hands, but it'll be just for a while. Soon it'll be back to square one.

To respond to the second question, it's not the job of the marketer to sensitise society. In fact its the other way round. A sensitised society will throw up sensitised marketers. So if you're witnessing crass marketing around you, don't blame the producer, put it squarely on the the people who don roles as consumers. The Anna Hazare craze washed away because as a society we don't understand the true nature of 'liberty'. To do so. first we must at an individual level believe that our destinies are crafted by our own selves, rather than by government or any other collective. But that sadly again is wishful thinking. Having lived through a socialist past, it'll be a while before we take to libertarian principles. It'll be a while before we believe that God's made us equal, and that we have a God-given individualistic right to strive for life, liberty, and happiness.

That we'll change, is for sure. Just that that it'll be later than sooner.


Ranjit said…
My 2 paisa bit here, professor!
Unlike Anna's crusade, Aamir's does not need the masses out on the streets - it does need good TRPs, and till that keeps happening, the institutions he targets in each segment just might get up and do something.

I don't think too many viewers of his are actually shocked, in the sense that they were totally unaware of the various ills he talks about. He just helps bring the issues closer to home - make them more "real" to us armchair revolutionaries. And let me tell you, its a great feeling to know I have actually made a difference by sending off an SMS (or even two). Makes my halo tighter, my Sundays go by in a happy, sanctimonious haze of "all's well again".

So yes, the interest in this one just might continue a bit longer - and of that, one hopes some good can come about - if Aamir's team does its job, that is! (For the good Lord knows, I just did mine)!
Ray Titus said…

Unlike what seems obvious, Aamir's not on any crusade. He's only doing what can cement his place in the sun!

Note Biswajeet Moitra's take on the 'crusader':

'All evening, Aamir regaled us with anecdotes about the co-stars, producers, directors he had worked with, and his family with great candour. He told us that when Tahir Hussain (Aamir’s producer-father) offered Jeetendra a double-role, Jumping Jack quipped: “Mujhse ek role ki acting to hoti nahin hai, double role kaise karoonga!” He said he watched few films, but read a lot. He didn’t think much of Sholay or any other film—save his own.

Our adda eventually thinned out and I could feel the star becoming more at ease. But I could also sense a rancour. Aamir could not hide his disappointment that he was still not regarded like a Amitabh Bachchan or a Dilip Kumar despite two decades of stardom and a dozen runaway hits. Ghajini, Taare Zameen Par and 3 Idiots had not yet happened; another Khan was King.

Aamir felt Shahrukh Khan managed the media very well, giving the impression that SRK’s movies were all superhits. He rattled off box-office figures to prove that all of his movies had fared better than SRK’s. The Aamir Khan I was now chatting with had shades of Satyajit Ray’s protagonist Arindam Mukherjee, played by Uttam Kumar, in Nayak. A superstar at the helm of stardom, struggling to be at peace with himself.

I then advance a meek defence, saying, “Outlook has put you on its cover twice.” To which Aamir charged, “But India Today had me on its cover three times.” I said, “Look Aamir, the dignity and gravitas you bring with the characters you play and the high probity you display in public life makes you the modern-day Balraj Sahni, a fine actor and an exemplary citizen.”

The moment he heard the B-word, Aamir’s expression changed from an accommodative amiability to a grim grey.

By way of placation, I attempted another salvo. “When Amitabh Bachchan, hailing from a literary family, wanted to join the debauched film industry, his first director in Saat Hindustani, K.A. Abbas, cited Balraj Sahni to AB’s father Harivanshrai: ‘An industry with which a man like Balraj Sahni could associate himself, your son too should be able to survive honourably’,” I said.

Aamir saw red. He was not aspiring to be Balraj Sahni. He was a superstar and he wanted to be accorded his rightful place. Saat saal baad, surely he has got it?'

Anonymous said…
I agree with you cent percent but I have to tell you that I am amazed that he has so many spectators despite not having a slot in prime time. And i also admire the fact that he is broadcasting it in all regional channels and Doordarshan channels.. As long as he doesn't ruin it with ads coming up in between it will seem like he actually cares. But the moment advertisements creep in you know I am out of there
Ranjit said…
Professor, does it matter why he has started off this series, as long as some good comes of them? I think not. And am surprised to read about his wanting to out do the Big B (my all-time favorite personality). Why do the Khan's seem to set themselves impossible goals? AB is a one-of-his-kind. The rest of our stars should be satisfied with the accolades they get - they work hard enough for them as it is!

And Shruti - would the presence of advertising dilute the content of the programs any ? (Apart from being the usual irritant?). Methinks not - and neither should any good marketing person!! ;)
Soumya said…
Hello Professor Ray ,
Hope you doing good..
I actually have a query.. I am sure Amir 's program is more or less inspired from the Oprah show as its evident in the way its staged the reactions he gives etc ..But my question is that, its believed that Oprah was able to create quite a roar in the US for several years up to the point that its believed that many Americans started to take side of Obama when they knew that Oprah is backing here .. Also its believed that ever since Oprah started airing issues on Child abuse a lot more victims have been ready to come out in open and take action..
so sure you may not change the society in a whole, but atleast it might help people to look at things differently and also for victims to know that they are not alone
I have not seen much of the Amir show so not a real judge on its impact but I have seen my share of Oprah shows and I do know that,that women has been able to make some impact on people in US
Ray Titus said…

I think Aamir's program won't make a wee difference to the attitudes we have inculcated over centuries.

Plus Aamir's not a activist, he's an amateur marketer trying to cement his place in the sun.

Note the link below -

Soumya said…
Thanks Ray Sir for your update, Sorry in the delay to catch up on it ..
Yes I guess you are right, the show surely would fade away in the minds of all those hundreds who are just in their quest to keep up with their normal life and all its abnormal demands!!

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