SMJ season two evokes mixed reactions

MUMBAI: All eyes were peeled on the first episode of season two of Aamir Khan-hosted talk show Satyamev Jayate (SMJ) when it finally aired on March 2 at 11am, putting an end to all the excitement of the past few months.

The two-hour-long episode titled ‘Fighting Rape’ put the spotlight on an extremely pertinent social issue while discussing some really hard-hitting cases. It began with a narration of the gruesome gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern in the national capital on 16 December, 2012, going on to give shocking statistics of rape cases in the country.

Khan revealed that according to the NCRB, there are nearly 101,041 rape cases pending trial, of which 3,563 cases have been acquitted or withdrawn and 86,032 are still pending. He spoke of the kind of medical and legal apathy that rape victims and their families usually face. Doctors tend to back off when such cases are reported, medical examinations are not conducted immediately and misleading information results in the victim being questioned more than the accused. However, he pointed out that changes have been made to the law, especially after the Nirbhaya gang rape case, and proceeded to elaborate upon the same.

While urging viewers to change their perception toward rape victims who are otherwise looked down upon by society, Khan, in association with the Aakash Institute, encouraged the audience to ‘Vote for Change’ by giving a missed call on 1800-103-2301 and pledging support for a standard protocol for medical examination of rape survivors. Surprisingly, 12 lakh missed calls was generated in two hours.

Indeed, the opening episode of season two of SMJ sent social media into overdrive with likes and tweets doing the rounds of the Internet, even as SMJ took fourth place on on the day of its launch.

And yet, both viewer and industry response was a bit of a mixed bag with some saying season two might be better while others finding it very similar to the previous outing. We spoke to some people about the episode and here’s what they said.

A majority of media professionals thought episode 1 of season 2 did well in terms of research and so did media veteran and founder at Social Access Communications, Lynn de Souza. “The first episode was good. Bringing out all the issues pertaining to rape and how the victims are treated in court was rather touching. It brought about a lot of awareness. The show taught me a lot of things which I did not know. It is worth watching and a great learning,” she said.

In contrast, a producer who did not wish to be named said the show was way too long. “Mixed reactions,” he said. “It was far too long. Two hours is a long time. People won’t stick to it after some point of time. However, thumbs up to Aamir and his research team for the heavy amount of research work.”

Another media planner said there was nothing different from the earlier season. “The first episode was very similar - nothing new and dramatic. Plus time, it was almost like a feature film. Unless there is some hook, people will lose interest. It’s a very documentary style of saying things and with viewers here, they don’t stick with documentaries. But kudos to their research work. Well done, detailed in-depth analysis, surely took the crown,” he said on condition of anonymity.

While Population First (Laadli) programme director Dr AL Sharada said, “In terms of format, I did not find anything different, it remained the same. In terms of research, it covered all aspects of judiciary reports and what common people face. I felt that Aamir should continue the same topic over a period of time.  Supposedly, he starts with gender violence and next week, he goes on to something else. The impact of whatever discussions are happening today will be completely forgotten next week when he takes up another issue.”

She felt the show should be restricted to one hour instead of the current two hours. “It requires a little more depth, in terms of the issues being raised. For instance, in season one, in the doctors’ episode, only activists’ perspectives were taken into consideration but the ground realities of a hospital i.e. how it functions, what are the facilities available wasn’t considered. We should not just say they are not doing, we should also understand why they are not doing,” said Sharada.

This is what celebrities tweeted on Satyamev Jayate:

Karan Johar - #SatyamevJayate broke my heart...made me feel helpless yet inspired me to make a change..truly moving, heartfelt and rightfully arousing!

Sunil Grover - Whn v all only spk abt a change here's a shw vich is actually brining abt 1!Congrats @aamir_khan @StarPlus on anthr brilliant season of SMJ!

Sanjeev Kapoor - What @aamir_khan is doing via @satyamevjayate is nothing less than a social revolution. Hats off to him!

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