(image – an Indian child actor who seems to be trying to dislocate her own jaw. Perhaps to avoid having to speak the dialogues she has been handed)
India is in the process of introducing new child labour laws that would stop any child below the age of 14 from working (except in a few situations such as in the family business after school hours).
Read literally, this law means no more child actors in Indian film/TV. I’m sure that the media industry will get an exemption added to the new law, but it got me thinking about the topic.
Part of me thinks that the ban on child actors is a good thing. I’ve worked on TV shows with child stars in India and I really feel that it ruins the kids’ lives.
They can’t go anywhere without being recognised, fawned over and pinched and prodded. They find it difficult to make regular friends. And they become attention addicts – accustomed to adults pleading with them to complete actions/scenes/ dialogues. One kid throwing a tantrum or just being mischievous can hold up an entire set (much like adult stars).
These kids grow up with a false sense of power, which dissipates once they mature from being a cute kid. They then become a teenager (a difficult enough phase) who everyone liked better when they were younger. Every now and then they are dragged out in “What happened to your favourite child actor” gossip new stories. They must hate the fact that they grew up.
In my experience, it is a terrible thing to put kids through. Sadly, I encounter many Indian parents you are obsessed with making their kids into actors. I constantly get emails with photos of children, pitching them for their fair skin and cute smile.
Side note: I doubt Indian parents are any less considerate than parents in some other countries – look at the hideous American child pageant system.
But there is another side to this coin.
Film and TV should mirror society. The best film and TV talks to us about, and makes us question, our world. Do we really want to show a world without children?
No stories about family life that involves children?
No stories about the experience of raising kids?
No stories for kids featuring other kids, hopefully, as positive role models? (yes you, Hannah Montanna 🙂
Should we not allow great films like Gattu and I am Kalam?
For society as a whole, this is certainly worse.
(image note – I don’t know why, but for some reason lots of chold actors pose like this in photos. Personally, I