Has anyone given thought to the educational qualifications of cricketing superstar Sachin Tendulkar? Or that of chess wizard Viswanathan Anand? While Tendulkar did not even pass his school exam, Anand was merely a graduate.
These were the thoughts that actor-director-writer Amol Palekar voiced at an open session on Children in Media: Rights of Child Artistes, at the 18 International Children’s Film Festival of India (ICFFI). Palekar’s musings were supplemented by similar views from former child actress Bobeeta Sarma, and Hyderabad-based documentary filmmaker Uma Magal.
Mr. Palekar had more food for thought: how justified are we in pushing our children to more stress? How do we handle parents who force their wards into the filmi glitz, hoping to see the fulfilment of their own dreams in the little ones? Acting by children should not merely be a means of income, but encouraged purely as a hobby, he added.
Filmmaker and activist M. Vedakumar said since filmmaking was considered an industry, it was but natural that child actors would be treated as workers, because they were paid for their dates. The little ones should act in films only during free time.
“It should not be forgotten that we cannot give them their childhood back. So, we should give them the best of education,” he said.
Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI) CEO Shravan Kumar gave a broad overview of the situation and said the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting was framing some basic rules and regulations for filmmakers.
Ms. Sarma dwelt on recent trends in the media and suggested that children should not be exploited emotionally, physically and mentally for the success of television shows.
Ms. Magal said challenges ahead included scrutiny and constant monitoring of content for children, making age-specific reality shows, child protection and supervision while at work, and ensuring their emotional and physical health, keeping stress levels under control and ensuring that education was not neglected.