“Amir Khan sheds tears on a different cause every week. Good causes, well scripted program, but false claims. He takes a fee of Rs three crores per session (so much for the tears) and the program is funded by the Ambani's (so much for the program)”
In a report run by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) titled, The New Hero of Indian Television, WSJ stinger Aatish Taseer informs us: “On Indian TV, there has never been anything quite like "Truth Alone Prevails." Since its debut in May, the weekly show has reached more than 470 million viewers with its inquiries into issues like pesticides in food, domestic violence and the abortion of female fetuses. Within moments of airing, each episode trends at No. 1 on Twitter in India. Ten million people have sent text messages, emails and comments to the show's website to share their questions, opinions and fears”.
Hosted by Bollywood super-star Amir Khan, combining---to quote Mr. Aatish Taseer--- “something of the glamour and social concern of George Clooney and Brad Pitt”, Truth Alone Prevails is keenly watched in Pakistan too. Amir Khan’s fans in Pakistan who cannot watch this show through local cable networks---since Indian channels are banned in Pakistan---they turn to YouTube to watch the show.
Many of my Pakistani friends have been hosting various episodes of Truth Alone Prevails [Sach ki Jeet, in Urdu] and lavishly praising Amir Khan for his commitment to social justice on their Facebook pages. Others have been tweeting about the show. This is equally true about Indian and Pakistani diasporas.
However, there is no lack of skeptics either. On the so-called social media, critics have been accusing Amir Khan of false activism. His critics believe that he seeks publicity for his films through his pseudo-activism.
I do not doubt Amir Khan’s sincerity to various causes he has been dedicated to [even if I have problem with NGO-style campaigns that count on celebrities’ participation to draw media attention]. We better not doubt anybody’s noble intentions unless we have a credible reason. However, I find it difficult to discount the facts that noted Indian journalist and a Viewpoint contributor, Seema Mustafa, recently noted on her Facebook. She notes: “Amir Khan sheds tears on a different cause every week. Good causes, well scripted program, but false claims. He takes a fee of Rs three crores per session (so much for the tears) and the program is funded by the Ambani's (so much for the program). Khan would have done better without the tears as then the fee would be for a professional anchor, not a wannabe activist. Am I a cynic? Yes when stardom meshes with industrial-dom I certainly am!”
Mr Aatish Taseer in his report for the WSJ does not take into account such criticism. He rather cites some unknown critics who “have accused Mr. Khan of being far less reliable on scientific issues than he is on social ones. Some also say that the show is preachy, even messianic, and that its research is not always up to scratch”.
Wow! Criticism is more friendly than praise abundantly showered upon Mr. Khan throughout the article. But it is not hard to understand. Amir Khan’s praise-worthy show airs on the Star network, which, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by Mr. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Neither the Wall Street Journal nor its stinger has any scruples about uncritically praising a show aired on a sister outlet.
But that is not the only dilemma here. The success Truth Alone Prevails is enjoying should also be viewed against the background of media imperialism. Of the four top Indian channels, three of them---Star, Sony, Colours--- are owned by global media conglomerates. While Truth Alone Prevails is winning best TV ratings, it is also winning revenue [advertisements] for Star TV. If Rs 30 million goes to Amir Khan, imagine the money Mr. Rupert Murdoch is pocketing. One wonders if the WSJ or its novelist-stinger from Delhi enlighten us as to the business reports at Star’s accounts department.
Adnan Farooq has worked with daily The Nation, Lahore and daily Jang, Lahore. He has also volunteered for Milieudefensie, Amsterdam. Friends of the earth, Europe, on environmental issues. He has been working with ON FILE, an Amsterdam-based publication run by journalists from all around the world. He studied Conflict Resolution at University of Amsterdam. He is the editor.