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Bollywood megastar Aamir Khan: The Truth Alone Prevails

October 13th, 2012
10:41 AM ET

By Samuel Burke &  Claire Calzonetti, CNN

George Clooney has spent years fighting to end violence in Darfur and actress Angelina Jolie is just back from visiting Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

American actors-turned-activists is nothing new, but in India this is an emerging concept.

Bollywood megastar Aamir Khan is leading the way for using the spotlight of celebrity to shine a light on his country’s most serious social problems.

For more than 20 years, Khan has been one of India's best-known actors, but with success came the desire to do more than just entertain.

Now Khan is hosting a hugely popular talk show called "Satyamev Jayte" or, in English, "The Truth Alone Prevails."

“I had been thinking about trying to use whatever goodwill I've earned over the years to try and use that in a way that I can give back to society,” Khan said in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

In each program, Khan tackles some of the most serious social issues plaguing India right now, breaking taboos on issues that have long been swept under the rug. 

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“This program has been a hugely enriching experience and something that has really transformed my life in so many ways,” Khan told Amanpour. “But in a sense, I'm an entertainer and I hopefully make people laugh and cry.”

Tears are not uncommon on Khan’s program.

His guests often cry as they reveal personal experiences typically seen with shame in Indian society. Khan himself even chokes back tears in some of the interviews.

Topics span from child abuse, child marriage and dowries.

In a recent program Khan tackled female feticide. His guest talked about being given an abortion procedure while she was unconscious.

“I was given an injection. And as soon as I was given an injection, I became unconscious. When I regained consciousness, my child was no longer alive. I was not pregnant anymore,” she tells Khan as the cameras pan from her to a shocked woman in the audience in the audience and visibly distraught Khan.

“These are really difficult topics,” Khan said as he looked back at the footage. “It's extremely difficult for me to absorb.”

Studies show that up to 12 million girls have been aborted in the past 30 years in India.

“We believe that with information and knowledge you empower a person and hopefully that changes his actions as well,” Khan said.

Unlike American television, Khan’s program often doesn’t announce what issues he will tackle on the upcoming show.

“These are very dark topics and very difficult topics. If I tell them beforehand that my topic is female feticide, a lot of people may not want to watch such a heavy topic. Or if it's child sexual abuse, they might decide, ‘Oh, yes, I know it happens, but I'm not really keen on watching this on a Sunday morning.’ So I think that the topic itself may drive people away,” Khan says.

But the program is doing just the opposite; it’s attracting a mass viewership. Khan says it could be hundreds of millions of viewers.

But the Bollywood superstar says that number is not what’s most important to him.

“What I'm really happy with is I think the political class in the country has responded really well to the show.”

Khan believes India is at a place in its history that is ripe for social change.

“I'm a very idealistic kind of a person. I believe that even people who are part of the problem can become part of the solution.”

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Filed under:  Christiane's Brief • Latest Episode
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. akbangia

    What do you mean by Megastar ???????

    October 13, 2012 at 11:05 am | Reply
    • Vikram

      Megastar means a person who has been followed by his fans in more than half of the population of the country. And i believe Aamir Khan is more than a megastar. He is truly a genius. :-)

      October 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Reply
    • Abishkar Prasad Sharma

      More than the concept and impact of the show your are more concerned with what he is being called, and moreover of course he is one of the most talented, authentic and yet successful actor, producer and director of Indian cinema.

      October 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  2. mohammed

    Aamir rocks!

    October 13, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Reply
  3. Shahid

    Aamir khan is a legend in the true sense. See the quality of his movies. He is the greatest actor India will ever produce.

    October 14, 2012 at 12:04 am | Reply
  4. Aruna

    Best show ever to be seen on Indian TV geared towards Indian issues where most people don't think twice about the topics hand conveniently disregard.
    What Aamir Khan is doing would bring awareness in people who never even given it a second thought to these issues. I would say it is a start and we have a long way to go. Of course there will always be some people who tend to oppose to any change, be it good or bad.

    Someone once said:
    "Life is...
    a dream for the wise,
    a game for the fool,
    a comedy for the rich
    and a tragedy for the poor."

    We obviously have plenty of people in tragic situations whose lives are being played by the fools who have the power to change the situations but are way too corrupt, and a handful of comedians who can actually do something but don't, and think of life as a comedy, while most of the so called wise people are no longer wise because all they do is dream.

    Just the fact this show is making people to think, itself is a step in the right direction.
    My hats off to Aamir Khan for boldly taking charge of the issues and bringing it to everyone's attention.

    October 14, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Reply
  5. Abishkar Prasad Sharma

    Indeed it was a great show. I was really impressed by the contents and the positive impact it created. Kudos to Aamir & his team for this effort. keep it up.

    October 14, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  6. katrina

    HONOR KILLINGS IN INDIA
    To be young and in love has proved fatal for many young girls and boys in parts of north India as an intolerant and bigoted society refuses to accept any violation of its rigid code of decorum, especially when it comes to women. The two teenage girls who were shot dead last week by a cousin in Noida for daring to run away to meet their boyfriends are the latest victims of honour killings, a euphemism for doing away with anyone seen as spoiling the family's reputation. Many such killings are happening with regularity in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. These are socially sanctioned by caste panchayats and carried out by mobs with the connivance of family members.

    October 15, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  7. skepticalindian

    Mr Aamir Khan is a true hero. He is really trying in a true sense to give some thing back to the society. Truly unique jewel in a collection of frankly useless movie actors. We knew you were unique just looking at the way you made your movies. Please keep doing this. We need you and a powerful medium like television.

    October 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Reply
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    Yes he is indeed one of the greatest personality

    October 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Reply
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    Induced abortion has a long history and has been facilitated by various methods including herbal abortifacients, the use of sharpened tools, physical trauma, and other traditional methods. Contemporary medicine utilizes medications and surgical procedures to induce abortion. The legality, prevalence, cultural and religious status of abortion vary substantially around the world. Its legality can depend on specific conditions such as incest, rape, fetal defects, a high risk of disability, socioeconomic factors or the mother's health being at risk. ^,`"

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    June 6, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Reply
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