What happened? A man is killed after appearing on 'Satyamev Jayate
Is there a limit as to how far reality shows can and should expose the participants? When people are willing to have cameras placed in hospital rooms to capture their battle for survival, or even impending death, how valid is the query?
I have consistently questioned the ethics of Aamir Khan's show 'Satyamev Jayate'. The host had begun to believe he was a messiah, riding on lachrymose glands. One thought, disgusting as it was, this is where it would end: Sunday mornings of chicken soup for the soul, followed by the main course of 'this is life' shrugging.
Unfortunately, the attitude remains one of arrogant consciousness.
Abdul Hakim eloped with Mehawish in 2010 against family opposition. The difference in status was the reason cited. The khap panchayat issued a death edict. Adoli village in Bulandshahar district of Uttar Pradesh became more than a dot on the map of India.
On Thursday, Hakim was on his way to get medicines for his pregnant wife; five men pumped bullets into him. Was this a family dispute or honour killing?
Had they not appeared on the TV show would they be saved? Other people are indeed killed even when they don't appear on television. Yet, when a case is highlighted and ordinary people are transformed into media-propped bravehearts, then the irresponsibility of the medium ought to be questioned.
Aamir Khan, upon hearing the news, said: "It was completely their choice. In fact, when I met the couple before our show, they expressed the fear of being killed. They were already getting threatening calls."
Why, then, did he not dissuade them, since the purpose of the show was to help society? Or, wasn't it? 'Satyamev Jayate' was catering to voyeurism, not conscience. It had a clear agenda to mimic soaps, but make it sound realistic. Is that why their faces were not blurred nor their names changed?
One notices this sort of 'authenticity' increasingly creeping into the electronic media. Real people are like us or those around us. It is about being a bystander at an accident site, or even a neighbour of someone who commits suicide. We become part of contemporary events, some of which are deliberately exaggerated.
The manner in which such shows sit in judgement is a form of khap panchayat. They too issue diktats and use the vulnerability of those who suffer. Abdul Hakim was a casual labourer. How did he benefit? Was he desperate to appear on TV.
One would think there'd be some introspection. Instead, Aamir Khan said: "Disturbing and unfortunate incident. Will speak to the government authorities in UP to help and ensure the family is safe. The culprits must be brought to the book. The case is registered on the basis of right facts."
How does he know? If he has the clout to talk to the government, then why not talk about the role of such TV shows?
The case is registered, we know. Now, it is time for 'talaash'.