True Review:Televisionby Piroj Wadia December 4 2013, 6:30 pm Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 1 sec
The first day of the last month of the year 2013, NDTV telecast a day long telethon Our Girls Our Pride. A soul stirring initiative, indeed. It was a most eye-opening telecast. It was a well conceived, well planned and executed show. Vikram Chandra and Chopra played host to prince (the celebrities) and pauper (the girls/women with stories to tell). Each time I switched on the TV, I found myself watching a young woman narrating her horror tale or in uncontrolled sobs. The hosts equally overwhelmed, as a young mother recounts how her husband killed her two daughters! Imaginative illustration of statistics struck the chord: When you enable a girl, you enable a society.
That Sunday, I finally saw television as the medium for infotainment. As the day wore on, the intrepid hosts soldiered through heart-rending to queasy stories of girls and women ravaged by men and society. Madhu who was 14 when she stood up to her father who wanted to get her married. She was helped by her village and social workers who threatened her father with the law. In a live reportage by NDTV correspondents from remote villages in India?s heartland revealed a startling fact of female genocide in Morana, where mothers themselves admit that daughters are not welcome; one of them revealed that the midwife is instructed to kill the girl child as soon as she is born. Lolo?s daughters were killed by her husband and his first wife. All through the day, we heard stories of the holocaust that still prevails in the second decade of the 21st century.
It?s heartening to see that television channels have taken social responsibility seriously and back it all the way with telethons and issue based talk shows. TRPs are not the prime focus, I hope. Star Plus roped in Aamir Khan with a Sunday morning heart tugging talk show -- Satyameva Jayate. This generated a new coffee morning speak -- female foeticide, honor killing, child sexual abuse, domestic violence and disability discrimination.
The issues had ceased to stir social conscience and debate in India. But with Satyameva Jayate, governments too were known to stir officials into action. The episode on female feticide led the Rajasthan state government to set up fast-track courts to try those accused of killing infant girls. Police shut down clinics that were helping parents abort unborn female fetuses.
In 2003, three boys from Jharkhand threw acid on Sonali Mukherjee. She lost her eyes, hearing and speech. Her attackers were jailed and four months later they were set free, while the young girl was struggling for life. Her case was depicted on Crime Patrol on Sony Entertainment Television after which many people came forward to help Sonali. Later, KBC approached Lara Dutta, who works towards helping women in distress with the concept called Dusra Mauka, to accompany a brutally scarred Sonali Mukherjee.
In fact, shows like Crime Patrol and Savdhan India leave nothing to chance in exposing the genocides that occur at our doorstep. From female foeticide rackets to dowry deaths, child marriages, honor killings and child labour, they have taken up cudgels. The well researched scripts, dramatization and the use of a narrator take them into the realm of docudramas.
However, we ought to doff our hats to Haqeeqat, Indian television?s pioneering docudrama series that aired on Sahara TV (now Sahara One), which dealt with human rights violation either by the police or common man against the common man. Haqeeqat featured India?s first peedophile with a brilliant portrayal by Tom Alter. The series premiered on June 12, 2001. Crime Patrol (2003) and Savdhan India (2012) followed in its footsteps