He doesn't want to enter politics and candidly admits he has no solutions to problems. Actor-filmmaker Aamir Khan, revelling in the "dream reaction" to his TV show "Satyamev Jayate", says his purpose is served if his efforts make people introspect.
Each Sunday since May 6 had seen the 47-year-old bring Indian television audiences face-to-face with issues like female foeticide, dowry, child abuse, malpractices in medical profession and honour killing. An entertainer rarely does that, and Aamir is happy in his space.
"I am not interested in politics, so I won't be joining politics. I feel what I am able to do from where I am, from the the stream that I am in, is much more. I can contribute much more (this way). So I am happy doing that," Aamir told IANS in an exclusive interview.
He admits one TV show and one person's efforts cannot bring about any change, but says "information and knowledge make you act differently". And that, through "Satyamev Jayate", is his effort.
Excerpts from the interview to IANS:
Q: Your show has received stupendous response from all quarters. Has the audience given it more love than you expected?
A: This is a very dream reaction that we are getting...right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, people are watching it in the small towns, villages, big cities... People across all economic groups and across rural and urban areas are watching it. The way people are emotionally connected to it is great. The way it is moving them, touching them, and affecting them is very heartening.
Q: You seem to have donned the role of a social reformer. Post "Satyamev Jayate", do we see you take on a larger role at some point, perhaps join politics?
A: I am not interested in politics, so I won't be joining politics. I feel what I am able to do from where I am, from the the stream that I am in, is much more. I can contribute much more (this way). So I am happy doing that.
Q: Is there any follow-up mechanism to the social issues that you have been raising on the show?
A: We believe information and knowledge make you act differently. Giving a broad example, if you look at a film like "Taare Zameen Par"... When the film was released, majority of the country's population had no idea that there was something like dyslexia, a learning disability. Thereafter, it started having an impact that has continued till today. So what we can do with this show is - 13 "Taare Zameen Par".
We are trying to get the viewers to look inwards. We are not expecting you to join an andolan (revolution) on female foeticide, nor are we expecting you to barge in each house of your neighbourhood to check if they are doing it or not... what we are expecting is that you yourself should not do it, and if somebody is thinking of doing it, you should discourage them from doing it.
We are trying to show the way forward. And by that I don't mean that we have a solution. So in answer to what the follow up is to this - I don't know what it is. What we are doing is basic, essential, fundamental and primary. And according to me, the follow-up or rather fallout of this will be very organic in itself.
Q: Several individuals and NGOs work towards society's betterment. But that hasn't helped so far. What do you have to say?
A: We are not discovering a new issue, we are actually tackling issues that are well known. Our research is based on work done by experts and social activists over the last 20 to 30 years. So their work is remarkable and important. Now what do I bring to the table?
Their work is the foundation of our work, and I am using my goodwill, which I have earned over the last two-and-a-half-decades. I am trying to put it to good use and using television, a fantastically strong medium, to address issues on a mass scale.
Q: You have let go of the aura around a celebrity to come closer to the country's masses and their problems. How gratifying is the experience?
A: It's been an amazing journey to come in contact with people from different parts of the country and from different cultures. I have had the good fortune of learning so much more about the country. It has got me closer to the people of our country. It is a huge learning experience for me to do this show.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)