TV turns over a new leaf
He came; he shared data; he made a whole lot of people shed tears. Aamir Khan's new television show was, rather predictably, the topic of the day both online and off
His charges per episode, the cost of putting it all together, the tricky issue of sponsors — these and related issues were discussed by many, while a number of celebrities simply chose to send out congratulatory messages on a job well done.
What we took from the show, however, had nothing to do with its anchor (although being a film star makes a whole lot of difference to a nation in love with melodrama) or even the content. It struck us that the idea of entertaining people while giving them something meaningful to think about has never been taken seriously by those responsible for creating content for television.
There are documentaries, of course, and a thousand government-sponsored programmes covering everything from rainwater harvesting and drought to family planning, drug abuse and the many other social issues that fall in between. The reason none of these programmes are ever discussed at our dinner tables or office water-coolers is simple — none of them happen to be interesting.
It is a shame that, in a country where the medium of television has long been recognised as a powerful tool, we haven’t managed to initiate a debate on any of the many elephants in our room. Yes, our news channels do everything they can to whip us into a frenzy every 45 minutes or so, but do they reach people the way Doordarshan does?
Whether or not Aamir Khan’s show manages to change lives is, ultimately, a matter of conjecture. What it does make rather obvious is that TV viewers in India deserve more than just soap operas about child brides and murderous in-laws.