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Aamir Khan on his ambitious TV debut.Will the show be a game-changer as planned? Will the actor’s instincts prove him right once again?

After Aamir Khan’s successful run at the boxoffice that started with Lagaan in 2001, none of his movies have disappointed. So if you forget Mangal Pandey(2005), that’s a formidable track record. His decisions have never failed him. Yes, he’s been criticised for taking his own sweet time to take up a new project, but everything this ‘thinking actor’ does, is done with elán. And he gives every project nothing less than his very best.

No wonder eyebrows were raised when this perfectionist decided to make his small-screen debut. There’s a legion of celebrities who have appeared on reality shows either to host them or to promote their upcoming films. Finally joining this unending list, which includes the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, is Aamir Khan.

Since Khan is the host of the show, it hit the headlines since its very inception.True to the actor’s penchant for precision, the chat show, titled Satyamev Jayate, will air every Sunday from May 6.But the twist in the tale is that the show will air at 11 am. In explicable? Read on…

While most channels kick off something big in the prime-time band, between 8 pm and 10pm, Khan decided to be different. Remember, during the pre-cable era when Doordrashan ruled, Sunday morning enjoyed the elite primetime spot. Satellite channels changed all that and prime time became the 8-10 pm slot. Khan’s show is thus being considered to be a game-changer of sorts.

At a recent press meet to launch the music video of the show, Khan said,“Shows like Mahabharata and Ramayana have always inspired us and so I decided that Satyamev Jayate would be telecast on Sunday mornings. Sundays are usually when colleges and offices are shut and the whole family is at home spending time together. I wanted to bring the entire country together. I want the whole family to reunite and watch my show together.”

If the wait for his small-screen debut has been long, Khan has made sure it will be worth while. Apparently, he worked on the concept of the show for two years,during which time he travelled across the country to research for the show, which will feature only the common man.

Said Khan, “A few years ago, Uday Shankar (CEO of Star India Private Limited) came to me with a concept for a show. I was not ready to do anything on television at that time. Slowly, I realised the power of the medium and the fact that there are a large number of people watching television in India. That’s when I decided to go ahead with it.”

We are all-too-familiar with how he markets his films. Why, some have likened it to peeling an onion! The actor is on a similar spree to unveil his TV show. So while in October last year, Khan held a press conference to announce that he would be appearing on a non-fiction chat show on Star Plus, five months later, he’s given the media only a whiff through the music video which has been shot to promote the show.

Every episode will feature a song and the channel plans to come up with a music album once the first season wraps up. The lyrics have been penned by Prasoon Joshi and the songs have been composed by Ram Sampath. Khan further mentioned, “It’s easy to say something in words but you get a more emotional touch when you say it via songs. That’s when we decided to have asong in every episode.”

The video will feature the actor interacting with common people from every region of India. The title track has been sung by Ram Sampath and Keerthi Sagathia, and the video has been shot by Ram Madhvani, who earlier worked with Khan during Taare Zameen Par.

Apparently, the title for the show was coined by Star India’s CEO, Uday Shankar, and the actor along with the channel decided to register it to avoid any controversy. But interestingly, when they registered the title, they learnt that ‘Satyamev Jayate’ is an Indian title that can be used by anyone; no one can register it. “I was actually very happy that this title can be used by every Indian.Through this show, that’s exactly what I wanted to achieve – to bring the whole of India together,” remarked Khan.

Khan has made sure the show is telecast not only on Star Plus but  across the Star Network, including Life OK and Star World. It will also be dubbed in regional languages to tap the markets there.

Khan explained, “My voice will be dubbed for four South Indian channels. I don’t mind that as I want the show to reach to as many people as it can. For regional channels, like Star Bangla, Punjabi and Marathi, we are not dubbing the show as the audience in these markets is fluent in Hindi.”

This will also be the first time in the history of national television that a non fiction show, other than major sporting events, will be simulcast on the national network, Doordarshan. Asked if it was easy to convince the Star group to allow the show to be telecast also on DD atthe same time, Khan replied, “The Star Network was very co-operative and didn’t interfere with my decision. They were nice enough to allow me to give the rights to them as well.”

According to him, Doordarshan reaches places in the interiors of the country where leading entertainment channels don’t reach. The show will also have a repeat telecast during the week. Tight lipped on the duration of each episode,Khan said that it will be a 13-episode season format.

However, a source close to the channel tells us that one episode is almost 90 minutes long.

In another path breaking innovation,Khan insisted that unlike the usual practice of creating stand alone promos,none of the promos were shot separately.Instead, he has taken the footage from the making of the show itself for promos.

The channel has invested a vast sum for the 13 episodes. Only time will tell whether the show will be able to recover the money or not. Though the investment is phenomenal, media pundits are betting that the broadcasters are likely to profit as much as three times from advertising revenues.

Asked about how the show will rate on the TRP charts, Khan said, “I don’t understand what TRP and GRPs are, at all. May be the channel will take care ofthat. I have made this show with passion and love. If the audience wants to watch it, they will watch it. My idea was to unite the whole country while watching it.These are my baby steps in the TV world and I have a lot to learn about it.”

PS: Our source from the channel discloses an interesting tid bit – Mahabharata and Ramayana telecast every Sunday morning years ago. However,the perfectionist actor decided to air his show slightly later at 11 am as people, nowadays, prefer to wake up later on Sundays than on weekdays. Interesting thinking, we say.

Four Leading Media Planners On Satyamev Jayate

Pratap Bose, COO, Mudra Max

There may be an intrigue value to the show which might create a certain buzz.The show will obviously have a better reach as it will be aired across all StarNetwork’s channels and also dubbed in regional languages. But placing the show on Doordrashan will not really make a big difference beyond a point as the regional markets are already being tapped by airing it on regional channels.The fact that it will air at 11 am on Sunday will ensure better viewership, but the content has to be compelling enough to engage the family audience.The show will definitely not be as big a blockbuster like Kaun Banega Crorepati.

Basab Datta Chowdhury, CEO, Madison

The show has been positioned at 11 am but it has garnered a pretty decent advertiser response. Star’s main reason to launch the show was not to achieve high TRPs as it is already the leader in the Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) space. It is a leadership positioning that the channel wants to achieve through this show. Like The Times of India is a leading newspaper but it has initiatives like Teach India or the Lead India programme to increase its brand awareness. Star is not really airing this show to gain ratings but to increase its brand value.

Divya Radhakrishnan, Managing Director,Helios Media

Whether the show will get good TRPs or not will primarily depend on its content.When a channel airs a show with a big celebrity, there is always a good audience response. Since this show has Aamir Khan in it, and if the content is also up to the mark, people will tune in at 11 am on a Sunday too. In such cases, any slot is likely to become the prime time slot thanks to the celebrity involved.

Obviously, the channel has invested a lot in the show and since it is a one and a half hour format, it is spread across 13 episodes. This means 13 weeks, which adds up to almost three months. It will definitely achieve the desired return on investments.

Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar UM

It’s a rare show. Now Sunday morning will become the new prime time with this show because the promotions will be of a very high level. This will highlight the timing of the show. It also doesn’t matter that the show has 13 episodes only as viewership will already be at it speak by the time it goes on air, thanks to Aamir Khan. It can actually be compared to the first season of the IPL,where the buzz was supreme. Star Network has sold all the ad spots in bulk as part of a package, and Doordarshan has sold their ad spots as another package.So the ad revenues will also be huge.

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