Faridoon Shahryar's Blog

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"My Team And I Are Very Thrilled": Aamir Khan

I have watched all the episodes of Satyamev Jayate. My entire family has watched it religiously including my mother who rarely watches television. I had interviewed Aamir before the show had started and had sensed the tremendous impact this show has had on him. I had been trying for an interview with Aamir for a long time now. He promised me that he will do it. He hasn't done too many interviews since the time SMJ wrapped up since he had started work on Dhoom 3. And when Aamir works on something, he dedicates himself totally. Before he left for Chicago, he once again tried to find some time. We were on standby. But somehow the interview didn't materialise. Once he was settled in Chicago, I contacted him once again (just trying my luck). He was gracious enough to contact through his team immediately. We conducted this interview via Skype and Aamir patiently spoke to me for half an hour. It was meant to be audio visual but due to some technical issues, the video couldn't be recorded. I was heartbroken. My brother in law Tabish tried his best to recover the video somehow. But it was not meant to be. Thankfully, the audio was saved and we decided to make a story using the audio, the way we've done in the past. It is a special interview. Here's the first part of the interview with two more to go. Hope you like it. 

Faridoon Shahryar: Are you enjoying the entire excitement that Satyamev Jayate has developed, you had one more episode that came on TV and I think the response to that has been fabulous as well?  

Aamir Khan: Faridoon, we felt that you know throughout this journey there was so much that I didn't want the show to be just my voice and what we are saying, but we wanted to hear what people are saying, and from our side we had made so many efforts to collect the voices of people. Persistent is the company we had hired for this purpose to plan everything on the net and of-course we had people writing in letters. So all of this we felt is very important to share it with people. And every week I have asked a question to people, you know every week people have answered what their opinion on that topic is. We have requested people to support certain organizations which are doing good work, which we had selected. So that money has been collected. How much has been collected? Which organization has it gone to? So, in a short while whatever has happened we wanted to share it with people, because we felt it's very important for them to know what's happening. 

FS: What is the total amount that has been collected so far, because I believe for every episode you have got from 27 Lakhs to around 2 Crores. What is the total amount?

AK: Because the collection date is going on till 31st August, so far the minimum any organization has got is 27 or 28 Lakhs, and 2 Crores something is what one organization has got. So that's the highest amongst between 27 and 2 Crore. And I am hoping that this will, you know till 31st August we are going to collect some more. I think the total is somewhere around 9 Crores or 10 Crores. Somewhere there, I am not sure exactly.   

FS: When you had started off and we had done an interview with you and even after that when I had met you one thing you had said I think quite a few times, that apart from the impact that you want to create from this show, most importantly what you want to do is that people should bring a change within themselves, and that is something which I think has come forth in many ways. The way people have come forward  and the way people have atleast started talking about many of these things because many of these issues were there, people knew about dowry and the child sexual abuse and female infanticide as well, but just get the details about it and the impact of it and even the alcoholism is something which is unprecedented. So the change within people, How do you react to that. What sort of inputs have you got from people in general?  

AK: Well actually you know my team and I are very thrilled with the kind of emotional connect that people have had with the show, and exactly what we wanted is that you know, because we have always believed that with information and knowledge we can empower people. And if the information and knowledge empowers me and based on that I can change my steps if I feel that I need to. So first the impact of that knowledge and information has happened on me, because I have been so unaware in my whole life about so many things, so that impact is first on me, and then through me via media I am hoping that it also reaches more and more people. And it has, so I am very excited about that this show has really connected with people and it has you know made all of us aware, its made all of us more introspective. And I truly believe that this will bring about, you know a strong change as we go along. 

FS: You know what has happened is that you have been working on this show for the last 3 years and apparently you had a very small core team of 3 people, Lancy Fernandes, Svati Chakravarty and Satyajit Bhatkal. And apparently you guys were just meeting every day and during the entire night many a times you guys were just brainstorming and just thinking about it. I think per episode you have spent around 3 months on every episode in terms of the researching and just doing the ground work and apparently you have had around 1600 hours of footage. Now the question that a lot of people are asking is that Aamir Khan koi aasaan kaam kyun nahin kar sakte hain. Aise hi kaam woh kyun pasand karte hain jiske andar bahut hi zyada mushkilein hoti hain and it's not easy to do it in the first place. 

AK: I think every work that you do can be easy or difficult, it's upto you. And it's not a question of easy and difficult also, it's a question of how deep you want to go into anything. So no matter what I am doing, I like.. I am very.. I am a passionate person and I like to give everything that I have in whatever I am doing, could be playing a game of chess, could be eating a meal, it could be talking to my friends. When i am talking to you my entire attention should be on you and nobody else. So I like to give myself fully to everything that I do, and so therefore even in something like this which is infact very all consuming and all demanding. It's more than likely that I would be totally immersed in this and and it was and it's been a very rewarding and enriching experience for me. I think I have learnt so much, I have met such amazing people, I would have never met all these people from different parts of the country. So its been a big learning experience. 

FS: You had 13 episodes and almost every, I must say every episode has been spoken about, you have had different issues and there has been huge impact as well, but personally as someone who has been associated with this and if you have to look at it objectively, which particular issue that you think has really brought about a change within yourself or you felt that has had the maximum impact?     

AK: Well Faridoon all the topics are important to all of us and it will be very difficult for me to pick out any one, but I would be like to say three things over here, one is that in terms of the episode, the last episode was probably the most important for me because it reminds us that, our forefathers who fought for our independence, what was their dream of India, what were they dreaming and what hopes did they have when they were fighting for an independent India. When they were fighting against the British and they were sacrificing so much, what was reaching in their hearts and whether it was our leaders, our national leaders or whether it was a common man on the road, that generation of Indians has sacrificed a lot to give us our independence, and the dream that they had, they wrote it down, in the form of the Preamble to the Constitution. Jo hamaare Samvidhan ka pehla panna hai, so that first page tells you, what their dream was. They dreamt of an India where there would be justice, they dreamt of an India where there would be equality, no one is superior or inferior they are all equal. They dreamt of an India where there would be freedom and liberty. They dreamt of an India where there would be fraternity and brotherhood. So these were the 4 important pillars of their dream. That last episode reminds us of that dream and it represents us and makes me want to promise to myself that I will try and do everything in my power to fulfill the dream that they dreamt when they fought for our Independence. The independent country we are living in today is because of them, this was their dream. Can we move towards achieving it, in a very holistically, in a whole-hearted way. So I should make every attempt from my side as an Indian to fulfill that dream and that is what the last episode tells us, so I find that very inspiring. So for me that is the most important episode, because if we do that then the other topics also get covered up in that.

The other 2 things I am going to tell Faridoon over here is that in the entire you know 2 - 3 years of work that we have put in, the 2 main things that have come up, 2 big learnings if I can say for me, has been that one of the biggest stumbling blocks for us as a society has been this patriarchal thinking. Patriarchal thinking means a society which believes that men are superior to women and therefore they have more rights. So that kind of thinking according to me is very harmful to the healthy growth of a society and for a better and happier society. So that patriarchal thinking which says that men are superior, needs to be addressed. We need to realize that men and women are both equal. Our Constitution tells us that, but we often forget, that in our heart somewhere as Indians we have been living with this patriarchal kind of thinking. This patriarchal thinking is there in men and in women both and this is the thinking that really disturbs our country on lot of levels and I will tell you how. Very simple thought I will tell you is that the centre of any family is the mother, mother is a woman. When that woman is born and she is a girl, we have to realize that we have to make her strong. So you have to feed your daughter properly, you have to educate your daughter properly, in terms of health issues, you have to look after the health of your daughter properly. In India, unfortunately, first of all people indulge into female feticide. Then after that, if they don't kill the fetus, often girl-child are left in dust-bins and all, then if the girl-child is not left in the dust-bin she is not fed properly, she is not given equal as her brother is given. So your son is well-fed, your son is well-educated, he is sent to the best schools, but not your daughter. Now this is the inequality we need to remove because when you educate your daughter properly, when you make her strong physically, mentally, emotionally in every way, when she grows up and she becomes a mother that family becomes strong. When the mother of the family is strong, the family is strong, because the mother is the centre of every family and when the mother is strong, the family is strong. The family is strong then the nation is strong. My mother has spent more time with me, she has done by upbringing. So what we have to realize is that as Indians we have to treat a girl-child with the same love and respect and offer her everything the same as we offer to the boys and that is a very big requirement of our society right now. So that is one learning. 

The other big learning that I had is that, wherever we found people living as a community we found happiness more there. We found that people were prosperous over there, financially, economically in every way, wherever people were working as a community as one. So, whether its villages, whether its mauhullas. Wherever we found that people are thinking ki yaar yeh toh mere liye accha hai, main toh kar leta hoon. Baaki let it be whatever happens there, there is a breakdown of society and there is a downfall. So you go to a village where you feel, where you see people are working collectively there you find that the village is prospering, because they are able to deal with the things in a good way. So there people are not cast conscious or religion conscious or other things conscious and they work as a community. There we have found that the people were successful. So this is a big learning for us where you have to always think that what is good for everyone is also good for me. If that kind of thinking we can ingrain in ourselves then that will go a long way, it will go a long way in bettering our society. 


  1. I have not seen that particular show and I wish I could. But I will say this. All over the world the very same issues and attitudes need to be addressed. They are not culture specific. We are talking 'global ' in nature here. From every kind of free expression to the basic family unit. Political power cannot legislate away all the social ills when in fact it only decreases the true constitutional freedoms of the people at large. In that regard social activism is vital if not required to survive. I applaud Amir for stepping out of his comfort zone and taking the risk. And to you for sharing with us.

  2. My pleasure Margaret....just type satyamev jayate in YouTube and you shall get to see all the episodes...truly special and groundbreaking stuff

  3. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=ELh4cOyjn234M

    Official playlist of all the episodes with English subtitles

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