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Rediff.com  » Movies » Review: Satyamev Jayate continues to probe our conscience

Review: Satyamev Jayate continues to probe our conscience

March 02, 2014 16:05 IST

Aamir Khan’s unsettling revelations on rape contradict the gleaming lines of his introduction speech -- Hindustan badal raha hai, ek laher si chal rahi hai, says Sukanya Verma as the actor returns to the small screen with Satyamev Jayate’s second season

What changed after Satyamev Jayate?

Those who are conscientious and believe in clean, honest living didn’t need a show that tells right from wrong to inspire them. Those who are soulless, attacking and despicable, it’s unlikely they would have watched it in the first place.

Instead within four months after its first season wrapped up, a horrifying incident shook even the most apathetic among us.

A 23-year-old girl died from a brutal gang rape in Delhi. When its disturbing details emerged, India’s young rage burst out in masses of protest across the country like never before.

This time, we, the people, were pissed off beyond measure and nothing less than a death sentence for the offenders would come close to recompense for the evil that transpired. In what was perceived as a historical judgment, it is exactly what happened.

Moved by these events, Satyamev Jayate’s superstar host Aamir Khan, also credited for its conception and creation, returns with a new season (featuring only five episodes unlike previous seasons’ 13) after significant discussions on subjects like female foeticide, medical malpractice and child abuse to focus on the four-lettered horror, the worst, conceivable form of violation -- rape.

His unsettling revelations besides the ones most of us already know (and if you are a woman dread of every single day) immediately contradict the gleaming lines of his introduction speech -- Hindustan badal raha hai, ek laher si chal rahi hai.

No woman is safe from these perverts who -- beat, tear, cut -- anyone between three months to 93 years and get away scot-free.  Innumerable instances are cited in its two hours running time to underscore the rampant cases, which take place everywhere and anywhere between tiny villages, small towns and metropolitan cities.

While endorsing retired Judge Usha Mehra’s One Stop Rape Crisis Centre proposal for rapid, rational justice. Khan points out the deep-rooted flaws within the police, medical and judicial system that fails to approach such unfortunate circumstances with sensitivity and support.

A cop locks up an 11-year-old rape victim in a cell and threatens her with dire consequences if she doesn’t take back her case; doctors continue to employ the revolting and inappropriate two-finger test and callous lawyers get away with questions like, “How long was his organ?”

He also lashes out at a society that alienates women and their families as though they are the ones who committed the crime instead of shaming those responsible and ensuring they don’t get away with it. Like one of its gutsy guests Suzette Jordan reveals how some believed she “deserved” what she “got” because she enjoyed dressing up and attending parties.

When I watched its first ever episode, I wasn’t sure if his initiative would bring about a revolution but at least it gave a voice, a chance to those individuals who actually underwent unspeakable trauma.

Khan may be responsible for Satyamev Jayate but he is neither its content nor its draw. The people are. It’s insulting to the people who inspire courage to be overlooked for its host, his fees, his stiff eyebrows, and his inability to withhold his tears.

While I still feel the same, I will share my concern and criticism of what I saw today.

In the previous season, Khan went easy on the advertising since it would dilute the seriousness of its substance. But this time, every heavy-duty, emotionally draining session is rudely interrupted with commercials and promotions of Nargis Fakhri cattily commenting on Ranbir Kapoor.

There’s something plain odd about seeing prominent scatterings of sponsor logos while a NGO backer talks about the removal of an iron nail from a victim’s delicate regions in absence of anaesthesia.

Another thing I felt is that what Sunday’s episode forgot is to condemn the glaring misogyny in our esteemed politicians and governing bodies’ idiotic statements to the media on such occasions, laying blame on everything from a woman’s attire to her perfume.

I, also felt, there could have been a capsule reserved to shed light on the lightness with which our society adjudges marital rape.

But what can I say about a country where a woman spent her entire youth waiting for justice. It’s been 21 years and there’s no respite in sight. Guess when Sunny Deol screams out that “tareekh pe tareekh” line in Damini, it’s not his hysteria but the truth we react to.

Image: Aamir Khan returns to the small screen with Satyamev Jayate 2 

Sukanya Verma