Now director Amole Gupte questions kids’ reality shows; celebrity judges answer back

Children’s TV reality show judges like Vishal Dadlani and Remo D’Souza counter Taare Zameen Par screenwriter Amole Gupte’s criticism that talent shows disrupt the school years.

bollywood Updated: Jul 14, 2017 13:13 IST
Yashika Mathur
Yashika Mathur
Hindustan Times
Shoojit Sircar,Amole Gupte,Boman Irani
A still from the show Little Masters. (Photo for representational purpose only)

More fuel has been added to the fiery debate around TV reality shows for children, with acclaimed filmmaker and screenwriter Amole Gupte now criticising how these shows keep children out of school. Before this, filmmaker Shoojit Sircar spoke of the mental stress that the child contestants have to endure.

Countering their stance, celebrity judges of TV reality shows say that they ensure the children are treated well, and that giving children a platform to display their talent can’t be a bad thing.

Gupte, who wrote the story and screenplay for the acclaimed film Taare Zameen Par (2007), a teacher-student drama around letting childhood blossom, trounced the way children pass through these shows, missing school and then finding it difficult to get back to their normal peer group environment. Countering that, composer Vishal Dadlani, who has judged music reality shows, says, “Whenever I’ve done a children’s reality show, I’ve made sure that nothing goes wrong in terms of how they’re treated on the sets, and them attending school regularly, but I don’t know if that happens on every show. I can guarantee that it happens on the shows that I’m a part of.”

Filmmaker Amole Gupte is unhappy with kids’ reality shows disrupting the normal schedule of children.

As for the intense competition the children are exposed to, Dadlani says, “I think it’s really important to learn the essence of sportsmanship, to learn how to compete fairly, and how to have fun while doing it. It’s important to learn from other people. As long as the show is conducted in a manner that protects childhood, and there’s no missing school, I don’t see any issue.”

Gupte asked, “In a reality show which has a continuous schedule, how can it be possible that a child does not step out of school?” He added, “Giving goodies and keeping children comfortable is not the end of looking after a child’s physical and mental health.”

Sircar was vehement, saying, “You’re making fun of a [young] boy or girl, you are body-shaming them, and then putting the kids out to get scrutinised.”

Filmmaker and show judge Remo D’Souza says, “I can’t talk about any other show, but on the shows that I’ve judged, I have not seen any kid suffer. It’s good for them to have a platform to showcase their talent. I agree that they shouldn’t bunk school.”

Actor Boman Irani, also a show judge, said in an earlier interview, “There are extracurricular activities in schools and there’s a way to enjoy their childhood. When they’re preparing for a school play, do we say that they are ‘working’? They’re enjoying themselves. These things are also done in school; the difference with [TV] shows is that it’s done on a larger platform. Look at it as a child who grows up with a wonderful experience.”

Actor Boman Irani feels reality shows are a bit like bigger versions of extracurricular activities in schools.

However, clinical psychologist Pulkit Sharma says that being judged — and losing — on such a public platform can leave a deep impression on a child’s mind. “For a young and tender mind, this whole concept of winning and losing gets very emotional. Children don’t have that kind of reasoning mind like an adult, where they can tell themselves, ‘Life is like that, and there will be other opportunities to win.’ I’ve worked with children who participated in reality shows, and it becomes very difficult for them to come back to normal life.”

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First Published: Jul 12, 2017 18:27 IST