Earlier this year, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights had been asked to look into reality shows featuring children.
This was after Shinjini Sengupta unable to bear the harsh comments passed by the judges of Dhoom Macha Le Dhoom on ETV Bangla, faced near paralysis.
As of September 17, the Commission has suggested that the minimum age limit for participants should be 12 years. Also, only educational bonds or scholarships can be awarded to the winners and lastly, there ought to be a counsellor present at all times on the sets. <b1>
It comes as no surprise that Zee TV’s new children’s show, Chota Packet Bada Dhamaka, has formed some of its own guidelines too. Apparently, the channel had an inkling about the Commission’s plans. However, Ajay Bhalwankar, programming head, insists that’s not true: “We weren’t aware of it.”
Some of the guidelines for Chota Packet Bada Dhamaka which launches tonight, are: no smoking in the studio areas largely populated with children, participants below the age of six not allowed, participants to be served only health drinks and not fizzies. And finally, a counsellor on call, at all times.
“We have always observed basic rules while dealing with children, right from Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs. Only now it has become more intensive, because we have grown as a channel,” says Bhalwankar.
How about the rule that children below 12 years can’t participate?
Age no bar
“That’s not a rule, it’s just a suggestion,” he retorts. Bhalwankar adds that such reality shows are there to promote art and culture among the new generation.. and hone the skills of the little participants. “AR Rahman was a musical genius at 11. Child prodigies can be below the age of 12,” he points out.
Show goes on
One other junior reality show on air is Zara Nachke Dikha (Star One). Chak de Bachche (9X) concluded recently.
Zara Nachke Dikha, however, features only two child artistes, Swini Khara, 9, and Amey Pandya, 10. Ravi Menon, EVP and GM, Star One, remained unavailable for comment.