Going through the TOI today I found an article about an issue which had been troubling me since forever, the participation of kids in TV shows. Almost 2yrs back I guess, I had watched the final rounds of Idea Sa Re Ga Ma Pa little champs which back then had become quite popular. The 5 kids who had shot to fame thanks to that show were admired for a variety of reasons: a boys who was chubby & felt shy when humming a love song, a girl from Alandi who had the courage to speak up on stage to the CM of Maharashtra who was present as a special guest for the show that she wishes to study, so could she please have 24X7 electricity supply at her place?! Everyone admired her sheer guts! None of these kids were ever decked up or had pancaked faces. They used to come onstage, sing, collect all the compliments heaped upon them & return. When these same guys had gone to meet Lata Mageshkar at her bungalow the nightingale had rightly adviced: Whatever you have achieved at such a small age is admirable for sure, but forget not that this is your age to study...study hard, play harder & enjoy your childhood.
Switch to the present day: The kids are younger, some infants whose parents have set them up for pseudo – adoption, the adoptive parents being stars/ celebrities. What’s really sad is that these kids aren’t orphans but just unfortunate. Even couples who wish to adopt are tested before any orphan is handed over into their care. Unfortunately I guess these kids weren’t even that lucky for who would have thought couples who smooched in front of kids less than 10yrs made ideal parents? There was also a temp mother in the same show who allowed the infant to continue crying so that she would not need to host a party forwarding the baby as her excuse. And all this while the baby’s real parents sat behind the screens watching the happenings via secret cameras!
If this isn’t enough there are a whole new range of reality shows on TV these days. Children are made to dance using cheap moves. The clothes are virtually non – existant. Their gestures are provocative as they gyrate their bodies to equally provocative lyrics. Comedy shows try selling any nonsense, use bad languages & leave the F & S words unsaid (though anyone who uses them surely knows they exist as also what they mean!!!) yet say it out loud with their gestures. Young girls put on so much of make up that they virtually shine due to all that glitter. I remember the days when make up meant putting on mamma’s lipstick and then rubbing it off in case you were caught. No more! These kids have make up kits which would put Julia Roberts kit to shame! Quality of goods though is an entirely different matter.
We all see films made these days which request that we eliminate competition for kids, make their life stress – free. Aren’t derogatory remarks from judges (Anu Malik, Saroj Khan, et al.) discouraging? Throw in a bit of money and you will readily face insult from so called stars? But you will not take a beating for not doing your homework. Your body is delicate but your heart isn’t. Things have changed indeed.
How are these kids different from the child labourers? Those kids give up their school in order to help parents in their fields, at least they do it for genuine need and not to hoard wealth! Some would say mine workers work in toxic conditions but while those kids suffer physically these kids suffer on a psychological level. Where are the shrinks who are screaming against our education system & the need to reform it? Would it be wrong to make even these kids a part of the Anti – Child Labour Law? I definitely think they deserve a chance to enjoy their childhood, when “aajkal ke baache...Baapre! itne shaitaan aur badmaash ho gaye hai” will be once again replaced with “ what a cherubic angel! Its so innocent!”