Papon kissing an 11-year-old girl was highly inappropriate, says entertainment fraternity
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Papon kissing an 11-year-old girl was highly inappropriate, says entertainment fraternity

Singer Papon has decided to step down as a judge for a children’s reality show, following a complaint being filed against him for allegedly sexually assaulting an 11-year-old contestant. Papon was her mentor.

music Updated: Feb 24, 2018 17:21 IST
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Hindustan Times
Papon,Angarag Mahanta,Angarag Papon Mahanta
Singer Papon has been a judge on a kids’ reality show and he was mentoring this 11-year-old contestant.

Ever since a complaint was filed against singer Papon under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act, accusing him of committing sexual assault, several statements have been doing the rounds. This came after a video clip showed him allegedly kissing an 11-year-old contestant on a popular kids’ reality show. The clip went viral on Thursday. On Saturday, Papon issued a statement, saying that he was stepping down as a judge on the show. On his Facebook page, Papon shared: “Since I am in no mental state to fulfill most of my professional obligations, I have decided to step down as a judge on the show till the matter in which I have been falsely implicated is fully resolved and the investigations are over. I have full faith in the judicial system and eventually the truth will prevail. In the interim I would appreciate that my privacy is respected.”

On Friday morning, a day after the clip went viral, the channel released a statement that they “have always been focused on the safety, security and well-being of the contestants”, followed by a statement by the contestant’s father, who called Papon a “father figure” and the kiss, “just a moment of affection”.

In the afternoon, Papon posted a long clarification on Facebook and apologised if his actions hurt anyone. Later in the night, the 11-year-old child, too, was shown in a video, defending “her mentor”.

Amid all this, many feel that whatever happened was inappropriate and has raised a question mark on the mentor-disciple relationship that’s the basis for several reality shows.

Filmmaker Amole Gupte, who had earlier called these kids’ reality shows “barbaric”, feels that it’s all about the roles and conduct that adults are assigned when they’re dealing with children. “[Also], I believe the mentor-disciple relationship should be restricted to touching feet and giving blessings. This whole physicality of the Indian culture and people finding excuses behind these acts is not acceptable. Why would you want to pinch somebody’s cheeks? Maybe that child is disgusted. And these early scratches on their mindscape leave a bad impact,” says Gupte, adding that while conducting theatre workshops, he always instructs everyone to stay away from children.

Actor Raveena Tandon, who has judged the kids’ reality show Sabse Bada Kalakar, expressed her anger on Twitter and wrote: “Disgusting! Shameful! Perverse! This man Papon should be arrested (sic).” Stating that all reality shows can’t be maligned for this one incident, Raveena says, “I’ve only seen these little kids being pampered, taken care of. But this incident was appalling. There’s no justification for any male teacher kissing their 11-year-old student on the lips, out of emotion, love or affection. Even if it was unintentional, it’s crossing the line.”

Besides multiple statements being released by various parties, what angered many was the statement given by Papon’s lawyer, Gaurang Kanth. “Papon gave a peck on the girl’s lip. It is like a guru-shishya parampara. The consent of the child is not important,” he told a news channel.

Actor-singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, who wrote on Twitter that she would “slap anyone who behaved with [her] daughter in such a manner”, says that reality shows need some rules and parameters. She retorts, “Papon and his lawyer trying to pass this whole incident off as guru-shishya conduct is absolute rubbish. We are all students of music and we know the respectful and correct ways. I wonder why the girl’s parents are keeping quiet. It just shows that when greed and ambition take over, you’d go to any extent to further your agenda.”

Interact with Monika Rawal Kukreja at Twitter/@monikarawal

First Published: Feb 24, 2018 17:16 IST