For their roles in television shows as well as films, kids are considered an integral part of the entertainment industry. On the small screen, especially, they are not being restricted to just fictional characters. These days, children have graduated to reality shows.
You can watch child artistes hosting, singing, dancing and even cooking on shows like Dance India Dance Li’l Masters, India’s Best Dramebaaz, India’s Got Talent and Junior Master Chef. Now, they are even hosting chat shows.
Sargun Mehta, who co-hosts Boogie Woogie (BW) with child artiste Rakshit Wahi, says, "It’s a refreshing change to have a child co-host a show than have a couple or two girls exchange banter. With them, innocence and fun elements come into play."
Child artiste Saloni Daini, who became a household name because of her comic character, Gangubai, started the trend by hosting Chote Miyan 2. Later, Dhairya Sonecha and Afsha Musani hosted Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs. Shreya Acharya also wowed the audience with her antics in Dance India Dance Li’l Masters. Producer Rajan Shahi says, "The audience loves watching a child interact with others. But the makers also need to ensure that they don’t miss school or shoot for long hours."
Sargun believes that there are challenges too, when it comes to having kids as regular features on a show. "It takes a lot of time for a child to get the hang of a teleprompter or be spontaneous. In a serial, you can do retakes, but on a reality show, if the action-reaction is missing, the chemistry is tough to create," she says, adding that her pairing with Rakshit works because it’s a dance reality with kids.
The newest addition to the list is young Sadhil Kapoor, who has his very own chat show, Captain Tiao. He interviews celebrities, asking about their childhood, and has some fun activities for his kiddie viewers.
Shahi insists that kids must be encouraged to pursue their talent, but at the same time, proper care and guidance is required. "There is a thin line, because at times, I haven’t liked the double meaning dialogues that some kids have spoken in jest on stage. The makers have to ensure that the line isn’t crossed, as it may look crass," he explains.
And, is the trend of having kids host TV shows here to stay? "It’s nice while it’s on, but just like this is a novelty today, it might be something else tomorrow," says Sargun.