The year was 2001 and Aamir Khan was on a high with the success of Lagaan across the world. At the Locarno Film Festival, where the Oscar-nominated film bagged the popular Prix Du Public, the superstar confided in his co-star Amin Hajee about a disturbing call he had received.
"He told me that he had been getting calls from goons asking for money. And, that he had politely but forcefully refused to bow down to the demands. He explained to me that 'if I give in now, I will have to always. If you give in to something that is wrong, you are only encouraging it'," recalls Amin, actor-writer and a longtime friend of Aamir's.
For Amin, this was a telling moment in their relationship of over 15 years. "I realised that Aamir is someone who walks the talk. And he does what he thinks is right."
An extension of Aamir doing what he thinks is "right" and without fear is his TV show Satyamev Jayate (SMJ).
"There were channels and production houses that wanted me to do game shows or judge reality shows. With no disrespect to either of the two, I always thought that television is a very popular medium and if I was to do TV, it should be something that makes an impact," says Aamir.
Almost two years after the actor approached series director Satyajit Bhatkal with the basic idea for the show, SMJ debuted in May 2012.
It ran for 13 episodes across nine channels and was dubbed in five different languages.
According to the data provided by TAM Media Research the show reached out to over 8.96 million people and garnered an overall rating of 4.27 TVR in the metros.
Aamir is back on the tube with the second season of the show and kick-started the season with a searing look at rape in India. Aamir's brief to Satyajit was simple.
"He wanted to make a show on social issues. It was his way of giving back. He told me to put together a small team and research subjects. And that we'd figure out the format once we know what kind of format we could go with," remembers Satyajit.
The director and his team set out to research three issues and ended up making six documentaries. In the process of filming the documentaries, the team decided to go with a talk show interspersed with related stories and short films.
"Even today, we don't have a very set format," says Satyajit. "Last season we did a show on water and it was such a visual subject it didn't make sense to only talk about it. We shot 14 documentaries for that one episode. SMJ talks about life and life can't be pigeon-holed into a format," he added.