Someone I had recently met told me that he knew of me before meeting me because of my blog and asked me why I haven’t written lately. I explained that I had shut it down temporarily, told him why and that I wasn’t sure when I’d be writing again. In my typical SM-self-deprecating way (in spite of being vocal, it is still nerve wrecking to wonder what people think about your thoughts), I poked fun at myself for the length of my posts; I told him that although they are long, they are not something I really think about and that they flow out of me in one uninterrupted stream of thought. To my surprise, 24 hours later and after watching Episode 1 of Satyamev Jayate last night, I found myself logging into my blog for the first time in months having one of those streaming moments.
I know a lot of people have posted about this show, but I finally got to see it and I have to say God seriously bless Aamir Khan. He is the one Bollywood star who has always been aware of what kind of impact he can make with his celebrity and has therefore used Bollywood as a platform by making films with important messages like Rang De Basanti, Taare Zameen Par & 3 Idiots. Now, with his Oprah-like show, Satyame Jayate (“Truth Alone Triumphs”), in a painfully in-your-face and gut wrenching way, he is bringing to light that those issues are not just things in movies that everyone forgets about when they leave the theatre, but that real life India is plagued with serious issues in spite of how much everyone claims that the country has “progressed.”
Although the show is about what plagues India, it is fundamentally about what plagues the mindset of all people and especially our South Asian community at large. I love what he says in his introduction of the first episode below… “In our society, there are some bitter truths to which we turn a blind eye. When I look these truths in the eye, I become disturbed… I become sad. At times I wonder why think of things that do not concern me? My life’s working nicely, so what difference do these make to me? But it makes a difference. I am a part of this society. A string of events touches you, me, each one of us in its passing, resonating, reverberating. All said, those responsible for our woes are amongst us or maybe we are collectively responsible.”
I’m of the latter mindset that we are collectively responsible because as the second woman, Parveen, says at the end of her heart wrenching story (her husband forced her to have multiple abortions because her ultrasounds showed female children and ultimately permanently disfigured her after violently assaulting her), “Because if to commit atrocities is a sin, then to endure them is also a sin.” As South Asians, we are notorious for “enduring” whether it’s as the people whom atrocities are committed against or those who turn a blind eye to those atrocities, and I hope that this show – even if just to some small degree – is able to do what it intends which is to encourage people to speak up about and to stop turning a blind eye to blatant issues in our community.
If we don’t move in this direction, we will sadly continue to perpetuate reprehensible behavior as being acceptable. Community aside and as I talked about in my post on the documentary “I am”, as human beings, we are also notorious for the belief that “it is not my problem if it is not directly affecting me,” which is unfortunate that we are unable to see ourselves in others and understand that what we choose to accept for someone else is what we – or someone we care about – may one day have to endure. Beyond that, most people will not be able to internalize that something like “3 crore (30 million) female babies having been aborted in India” has a ripple effect on the world and impacts all of us even when we think the problem itself does not or could not.
As Vamsee Juluri perfectly said at the end of his Huffington Post article, “the truth that ‘Satyamev Jayate’ offers is a different kind of truth that we desire. It is, first of all, the assurance we are right to feel that all this is wrong. It is the assurance that it is not weird or ‘Gandhi’ to feel the pain of others as our own. It is the assurance most of all that comes from watching those who have survived tell their stories, for their courage is always an example to all those who are similarly suffering, and can use the hope. The real heroes of “Satyamev Jayate” are really its guests, as sentimental as that might sound. They are the truth that will triumph. We need to know from them that goodness can lead to a happy ending, or at the very least the promise of a new beginning. Bollywood has met reality, and it is not a bad thing at all.”
Yep, after almost 7 months since my last blog post, what compelled me to write was a TV show, and I know there are far more important shows like Jersey Shore, Real Housewives and the Bachelor to watch, but I hope that a few people take the time to watch this and if they are as touched, moved and inspired as I was, that they share the show with others.
Although they will likely never read this, to all the individuals who had the courage to come on the show while living in a community that will likely persecute and ostracize them for doing so, and to Aamir Khan and the STAR World channel for taking this on, thank you…
“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered.” ~ Michael J. Fox
“You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.” ~ Albert Einstein
“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
“The power of one man or one woman doing the right thing for the right reason, and at the right time, is the greatest influence in our society.” ~ Jack Kemp