Aamir Khan on Time cover as India’s ‘first superstar-activist’

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Aamir Khan’s hugely successful TV show “Satyamev Jayate”, that focusing on burning issues facing India and ways of tackling them, has landed him on the cover of prestigious Time magazine as India’s “first superstar-activist.”

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“He’s breaking the Bollywood mold by tackling India’s social evils. Can one actor change a nation?” asks the blurb on the cover of the Asia edition of the Sep 10 issue of the US magazine, which features a close-up of the actor looking intensely into the camera.

Tracing the rise of Aamir Khan with the 1988 blockbuster hit “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak”, Time’s Bobby Ghosh noted over the past decade the 47-year-old actor has acted in, directed and produced a string of “movies that artfully straddle the demands of popular cinema and that desire for grace.”

“Now, with his groundbreaking TV show Satyamev Jayate (Truth Alone Prevails), he has dispensed with commercial considerations to indulge his conscience,” writes Ghosh. “With it, Khan has taken on the mantle of the country’s first superstar-activist.”

“The show, in equal parts chat and journalism, casts an unblinking spotlight on some of India’s ugliest social problems,” he says of the show of which Khan is “creator, producer and host, and he has invested it with his star power – and his credibility.”

“It’s a ballsy move, and potentially jeopardizes his status as the beloved idol of millions,” writes Ghosh, since the subjects his show tackles “are precisely the sorts of harsh realities from which many of Khan’s fans seek escape in his movies.”

“Can a movie star affect the mores of a nation of 1.2 billion?” asks Ghosh and suggests “It might just be possible in India, where a national obsession with cinema, unparalleled in the world, gives popular actors an influence beyond the imagination of Hollywood scriptwriters.”

As Khan assesses the impact of his first series, Time suggests, “Whatever Khan chooses to do next in his quest for grace, there’s a good chance it will lift India a little closer to what he – and fellow Indians – would wish their country and society to be.”

Aamir Khan is the third Indian actor to be featured on the cover of Time magazine. Aishwarya Rai made it to the cover in 2003 and Parveen Babi was featured in 1976.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])