Wonder what goes through the minds of perpetrators of abuse and excesses when they watch Amir Khan’s Satyameva Jayate. Would they feel guilty ? Would they fathom the consequences of the cruelty they perpetrated ? Short of naming them, the victims appearing on the show profiled their oppressors and their acts in such graphic terms that they should fall steeply in their own eyes.
Maybe, one of these days we get to read in the papers about one of these guys taking his own life out of remorse. Maybe someone guilty calls Amir Khan to apologize on camera. Maybe I’m daydreaming.
Anyway, the Sunday 11 a m TV show anchored by film actor/maker Amir Khan is watched by almost everyone I have met. Having missed the first two episodes, I found myself conversationally inadequate in any gathering of friends and neighbours, who seemed to have nothing else to talk about for a day or two after an episode. If you live in a close-knit gated community, as I do, you simply can’t escape Satyameva chat among residents you run into, at the clubhouse or the grocery shop in our Chennai apartments complex.
The last straw was my son’s weekly call from California. And he talked about….you guessed it. When he heard my wife and I hadn’t watched either of the two episodes our son promptedly e-mailed the YouTube link to the Amir Khan Shows – about abuses on women and children. Now that I have watched them on YouTube I feel updated ; and can’t help talking about the episodes I just watched , while others, having had their say, are waiting for next Sunday’s episode.
I don’t know if Amir Khan was inspired by anyone, but I see a touch of Oprah in his show. Both score high marks on being thorough in their approach to any issue they take up . The format covers case studies, victims interview, relevant research or govt. committee report, expert comments, and a summing-up. At the end of the hour, I was left reasonably rattled by the revelations – that 53 percent of our children fall victim to some form of abuse; that culprits are usually someone known to the victim and trusted by her/his family. In many cases he is part of family – an uncle, grandpa or someone so close as that. There was this case where a schoolgirl falls a prey to indecent advances made by a teacher who comes home to coach her in maths, history or whatever.
Girls raped at tender age by live-in relatives, and married women forced into abortion for carrying a female in womb suffer in silence. In rare cases where child victims gather courage to speak, their accounts are hardly believed or their complaints taken seriously, more often, by their own parents. Victims of abuses get trapped in a ‘can’t talk, aren’t believed’ syndrome.
Amir Khan has got some of them talking , on camera; and their gut-wrenching stories prompts us to re-define relationships within extended families, re-draw lines of permissibility. Vulnerable children and, particularly, their parents can’t be faulted, if they start looking over their shoulders, so to speak , at friends and relatives with penchant to get too close to their young ones.
We have had just two weeks of Satyameva Jayate (SJ). It would, perhaps, take 20 more episodes for Satyameva Jayate to become an unfailing weekly habit . And then, every Sunday, 11 a m, would the Amir Khan Hour, nationwide. Undoubtedly, Amir Khan is on to a good thing. My concern is, if a busy celebrity of his stature would continue to find the time and energy to sustain the weekly show, at a reasonably high bench-mark he has set for himself in the initial episodes. Would he re-visit topics he has covered, in later episodes ? For issues such as female foeticide and child abuse couldn’t be wished away with a single celebrity show.
As Khan says, the magic wand that makes things happen is within each of us. We could do our little bit to put our shoulders to the conversational wheel Amir Khan has set in motion, nationwide. I don’t know if Cindrella and Harish Iyer would consider opening a Facebook page to encourage others who have been through such hell to come out of their closets to talk out their past. The Amir Khan Show has got the country talking about issues we have till date refrained from mentioning even within the confines of our living rooms, let alone on national television. And bloggers could keep the talk going with their posts, reviewing what Amir Khan brings up in his weekly episodes.