Aamir Khan: Experiments with truth

Packed with songs and emotions,Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate could well be a giant leap for celebrity chat shows. Here’s why.

Written by Priyanka Sinha Jha | Published: April 20, 2012 6:06 pm

Packed with songs and emotions,Aamir Khan’s ‘Satyamev Jayate’ could well be a giant leap for celebrity chat shows. Here’s why.

Talks of Aamir Khan hosting a television show first began more than a year ago. The conspiratorial whispers soon turned into a wide-held belief,at which point some fearless scribe could not hold his peace,and put the “Is it true?” question to the actor at a press conference last year.

Khan,however,maintained a no-comments stance on it which is usually synonymous with consent. Soon after,the rash of rumours suggested that it was likely to be an issue-based show,and the buzz only grew louder when Aamir met Anna Hazare last year during the latter’s agitation for the introduction of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Of course,no information was forthcoming from the star in the hot seat till sources from the channel confirmed the news.

As it turns out,Khan has been working on the show for the last two years with Satyajit Bhatkal (who produced a documentary on the making of ‘Lagaan’),joining the dots in north,south,east and west that make India. Last week,Khan finally shared a promotional song with the media to test waters for his forthcoming chat show,’Satyamev Jayate’,to be telecast on Star Plus (starting May 6).

At the moment he is still tight-lipped about the show and has only confirmed the obvious—that it’s a chat show with real people. The only celebrity on the show would be Aamir himself but the hero,he assures,is India’s Aam Aadmi.

It was perhaps between the time that ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ helmed by Amitabh Bachchan,its runaway success and the disastrous fate of me-too celebrity shows that followed,that programmers realised the futility of simply using star presence as a tent-pole for television shows and their promotion. And conversely,the utility of the “Common Man” was suddenly realised by programming heads. In the competitive world of television,the common man has rescued many a show ever since.

The last very successful season of KBC, on Sony Entertainment Television,again with Amitabh Bachchan was well packaged (bigger prize money etc) with a clever tag-line that ran “Koi bhi insaan chhota nahin hota,” in order to draw the small-town audience.

With an eye to garner eyeballs in Tier-2 cities,the line worked like a charm. In fact,Sony went a step ahead when it replicated the show (originally aired on Star Plus) in different regional languages with different hosts—-Shatrughan Sinha for Mahua Bhojpuri,Sourav Ganguly (Mahua Bangla) and Suriya for Vijay TV (Tamil) and plans of a follow-up in Malayalam and Kannada too.

Star Plus now is taking the thought forward,leveraging existing channels to promote and air ‘Satyamev Jayate’. It is also a smart move to draw attention away from rival channel Sony’s IPL-5 which is currently high on both visibility and noise.

Star Plus,in the past,had experimented with variations of the star and “Aam Aadmi” mix. Former cop Kiran Bedi’s ‘Aap Ki Kachehri’ on the channel solved people’s problems pertaining to finance,succession and marital rights among others and ran into three seasons. There was also director Farah Khan’s ‘Tere Mere Beach Mein’ which had top drawer celebs on common meeting grounds such as a daughter supporting her family – ergo Bipasha Basu and a non-celebrity daughter providing financial aid to her parents presented on the show.

Aamir Khan’s show travels beyond the studio — he is seen playing hockey with kids,breaking bread with a family and sailing in a shikara. It is something he hopes that everyone will “emotionally connect with.”

In order to establish an emotional connect with the audience each episode of the show will be accompanied by a song quite like the promotional song,“a love song to the nation.”

The songs have been put together by composer/singer Ram Sampath,along with lyricist Prasoon Joshi while the audio-visual footage has been shot by ad filmmaker Ram Madhvani. T-Series and Hungama are collaborating with them on the music front while Airtel has come on board as sponsor and is already using the song as a caller-tune for its subscribers.

The show timing — 11 am Sunday slot — which has been lying dormant ever since Doordarshan relinquished its former glory to the newbie private broadcasters,is yet another re-packaged innovation. Besides this,the show in a dubbed version will simultaneously be aired on all Star channels (Star Plus,Star World and all regional channels within the star bouquet such as Star Jalsa etc) in addition to being shown on Doordarshan. The show,produced by Aamir Khan Productions is a 13-episode affair,shot in different parts of India and if well-received,may go into another season.

When asked for a comment on the template,Siddharth Basu,Chairman and Managing Director,Big Synergy,which produced ‘KBC’,’10 Ka Dum’ among other top ranking star shows as also ‘Aap Ki Kachehri’,said,“It’s a brave attempt to raise front-burner issues in a moving and thought-provoking way. We need that on our TV. I wish Aamir and the show the very best.”

This is the biggest that a chat show on a GEC has gone in recent times. Given that this is “Perfectionist” Khan’s foray into television,in the thick of Indian Premier League season,the channel’s efforts to up the bar in different ways,is understandable.

According to Star India CEO,Uday Shankar,“’Satyamev Jayate’ is an universal show that will touch hearts and connect with every Indian. This is the first time any show will be broadcast on a pan-India platform and will be simulcast in all major channels of the Star Network — Star Plus,Star Pravah,Star Jalsa,Star World,Star Vijay,Asianet as well as Doordarshan. This is a landmark move and the aim is to ensure that every Indian has the chance to view and experience the show.”

The show has a larger aim and truly lives up to Star’s promise of “Inspiring a Billion Imaginations.”

“Star and Aamir have come together to push the frontiers of creativity and programming and create something that is truly impactful and engaging,” Shankar says.

According to Dheeraj Kumar,Managing Director,Creative Eye,with many successful years in the television industry as actor,director and producer,“It’s an innovative approach,as non-fiction shows,so far,have usually been slated for the prime-time slot. Aamir Khan is known to be very professional and given his reputation,will certainly put in his best. Content will really be key because shows like ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharat’ made the Sunday morning slot a winner and not vice-versa.”

Considering that one has not yet been privy to the content of the show,it would have to be the marketing strategy and unusual firsts to the show that stand out. Khan is not merely hosting the show,he is even producing and promoting it — his publicity agency has been pencilled in for publicising the show. None of his predecessors,namely Akshay Kumar,Amitabh Bachchan,Abhishek Bachchan,Hrithik Roshan,Madhuri Dixit-Nene,Preity Zinta,Salman Khan,Shah Rukh Khan (though Red Chillies did produce the show Up Close and Personal with PZ and Farah Khan’s chat show Tere Mere Beach Mein) have produced television shows starring them.

“I am not looking to create a revolution. I just want everyone to connect with the show,” Khan says to enthusiastic media persons likening his travels across India to Mahatma Gandhi’s. But,if he wins the TRP game,he may well be credited with creating a revolution on the small screen at least. l

Music & Lyrics

*’Satyamev Jayate’,the inaugural song for the show is already a viral hit according to T-Series head honcho Bhushan Kumar who says,“It is even better than some of the film songs—akin to an item number almost”

*The last time something similar was attempted was Kolkata Knight Rider’s Anthem also with T-Series and Hungama. It did well during the cricket season

*The songs will be played at the end of each episode of ‘Satyamev Jayate’ with an accompanying AV

*CDs of single songs will be put out for sale but it will be the revenues from digital platforms that will be the big earners,says Kumar.

*All songs are in Hindi and have been sung by different singers. Ram Sampath has composed the music and the lyrics have been penned by Prasoon Joshi

priyanka.sinha@expressindia.com

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