Magazine article Variety

Aamir Khan Is Staying ON MESSAGE

Magazine article Variety

Aamir Khan Is Staying ON MESSAGE

Article excerpt

Movie stars often aren't shy when it comes to using their clout to help shed light on worthy causes, but few have the platform of Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, whose weekly talkshow "Satyamev Jayate" (Truth Alone Prevails) recently completed its third season on 21st Century Fox's Star India network and Indian national broadcaster Doordarshan.

Khan, the star of "Dhoom: 3," India's all-time highest box office earner, at $88 million, also starred in "3 Idiots," the locally produced B.O. champ that "Dhoom: 3" toppled, and was the star and producer of 2001's "Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India," which earned India's last Oscar nomination in the foreign-language category. All three films were hits in China and Japan - non-traditional markets for Indian cinema.

On his TV show, Khan focuses on social issues like domestic violence, "honor" killings, sexual abuse and female feticide in a nation in which corruption and superstitious practices are endemic. Before starting the TV show, he got some advice from those looking to protect his box office viability: Don't do it.

"A lot of people told me there would be an adverse effect on my film career because I am picking very sensitive topics and showing a mirror to society that sometimes society doesn't want to see. (They said), 'You may rub people the wrong way,"' Khan says.

But the actor forged ahead. "This was something I really wanted to do, and I didn't think of the consequences," he says. "As it turned out, it's had a good impact, and a lot of people love the show."

"Satyamev Jayate" topped its Sunday 11 a.m. timeslot across India, trended on Twitter, was the top Indian search on Google Trends, and its website crashed due to heavy traffic.

Khan says that to draw audiences in to each episode, he mixes journalism with nonfiction storytelling, and that promos never feature any potentially off-putting subjects.

"The reason I decided not to reveal anything on any topic (beforehand) is because the topics are really heavy, serious and sometimes dark," Khan says.

Rather, he approaches a subject from a point of general agreement.

For example, on the issue of female feticide, he built up the featured women as mothers first, since mothers are revered in Indian culture, and only after that explains that the women are forced into the age-old practice of aborting pregnancies that would produce female babies. …

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