Suddenly my Sunday afternoons have attained a new degree of certainty, if only for the one hour that I dedicate to watching Satyamevjayate. A show hosted by Aamir Khan, a celebrated Bollywood actor, with a conscience and a drive to bring about change, that focuses on unearthing key societal issues in India. The scourges that have been discussed thus far range from dowry to the rampant unscrupulousness of medical practitioners in India. Aamir talks to real victims, hits on the key factors and drivers of such issues and attempts to engage the society as one unit in addressing them. Satyamevjayate is an interactive show. While a few participants are connected live via a ‘3G link’, the audience on the set is picked for relevance to the issue at hand, and often have valuable inputs.
This post is not about glorifying Aamir or the show, why restate the obvious? I want to talk about the naysayers who on public forums are quite verbose about Aamir’s ineligibility to talk on issues as dowry, female foeticide etc..Youtube and SMJ Website’s comments section are replete with hateful remarks on his personal life.The reason being that he is a twice married man.
Aamir amicably separated from his wife of over 20 years with whom he had a son and married Kiran Rao, his co-producer and long time friend. Clearly, blasphemous by Indian standards, where divorce is a sacrilege and remarrying a one way ticket to hell. Society as a unit sneers at couples who choose to separate, preferring that they ‘adjust’ and live a life of repressed emotions than bring the ‘evil western practices’ like divorce and remarriage. Yes, in India your marriage, your family and your life is everyone’s business.
Two consistent themes from the peanut gallery are: “failed” marriage and perceived impact of separation of parents on children. A decision to part ways is not a sign of failure. It’s a realization between two mature people that their stint together has plateaued and their lives are too short and precious to continue living a humdrum or unhappy existence. Before it results into one of them getting emotionally scarred they choose to live separate lives. An amicable separation that does not involve philandering, violence or greed is no one’s business to judge or sneer at. The logic that it adversely impacts the society by setting a *wrong* example is lopsided at best. The pressure in India to make a failing marriage work is immense amounting to a general sense of unhappiness and encumbrance among families. The apologists also argue about the impact on children. A child who grows up with unhappy, quarreling parents will perhaps grow up with more personality issues than one raised by a single albeit loving parent. And if the separation has been peaceful with post-separation responsibilities agreed on, then it is likely a less traumatic experience for the child than being parented by two discordant people under immense pressure to keep the relationship together. Separation doesn’t hurt, what hurts is neglect, apathy and abandonment. I would argue that the latter is more likely to happen to a child being raised in an unhappy wedlock.
Of course, the show has antagonized a section of the society. And that section, mostly men with a patriarchal mindset( since most talks have revolved around women-related issues) have taken to retaliating by aiming at what they think is Aamir’s Achilles’ heels. My humble message to that section distributing eligibility certificates to such agents of positive change is: Perhaps the reason it’s uncomfortable is because the cap fits too snug. If the show got the skeletons in the closet rattling, it might just be the time to clean it up? Before you start shooting the messenger, remember, if not iron-clad he has fewer chinks in his armor than the antagonized few . What you think is his handicap is just an example of his maturity and strength.