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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Anurag Basu on kids’ reality shows: Judges are conscious parents first

The filmmaker, though reticent about the controversy over the box-office failure of his film Jagga Jasoos, speaks his mind on another debated topic: whether TV talent contests are good for children.

tv Updated: Jul 29, 2017 16:45 IST
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Hindustan Times
Filmmaker Anurag Basu, who is a father to two daughters, has judged two kids’ reality shows on small screen.
Filmmaker Anurag Basu, who is a father to two daughters, has judged two kids’ reality shows on small screen.

Filmmaker Anurag Basu, director of Jagga Jasoos, has been quiet about the tirade directed at him by Rishi Kapoor, father of the film’s lead actor and producer Ranbir Kapoor, following its box-office failure.

However, that’s not because the filmmaker shies away from speaking his mind. While he didn’t respond to Rishi out of respect for an industry veteran, Anurag has plenty to say about another hotly debated subject: whether TV talent contests ruin childhood or not. He speaks to Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview on this.

With so many Bollywood personalities closely associated with these shows, there is plenty of strong opinion on both sides of the fence. The recent debate was triggered by filmmaker Shoojit Sircar’s tweet bashing children’s reality shows. “Honestly, what Shoojit is thinking from an outside perspective is exactly how I used to think as well, four years ago,” says Anurag, who has judged two such shows, Super Dancer and Sabse Bada Dramebaaz. “But then I was convinced by the producers and I had a provision to walk out if I felt kids were being exploited,” he adds.

The filmmaker, who has two daughters, believes that even show judges are “conscious parents”. He says, “As long as kids are not working overtime, I’m fine. There have been instances when the shooting went on [for more than] eight hours, and I and my co-judges walked out. We [judges] really become emotional and attached to that stage and talent while judging these kids. ”

A post shared by Anurag Basu (@anuragsbasu) on

Rather than diminishing the experience of childhood, these shows help children learn about different cultures, says Anurag. “There’s actually a very healthy and homely atmosphere, where kids stay together for two-three months, become friends, dance, get exposure, and feel happy about it all without any stress.”

Whatever pressure there is on the children is created by their parents, says Anurag, calling pushy parents the “main problem”. He says, “Even during auditions, you’d see it’s the parents who are actually pressuring kids and telling them to win [the show]. I’ve personally spoken to them many times, and told them to let the kids enjoy the process. I even tell kids that your dream should not be to win or bag a role in a film. Your primary goal should be to become a better person, which means go and study. [Also] you will never see girls do filmi numbers [on these shows]. We make that conscious effort that there [should be] art in the performance,” asserts the filmmaker. He says that though he judged two shows, he didn’t allow his daughters to watch the first few episodes, until he was sure of the content.

Asked if these reality shows had a negative effect on the children’s psyche after losing — and most will lose, since there can be only one winner — the filmmaker says that only parents can ensure such negativity doesn’t happen. “Kids don’t take it very seriously,” he says. “They just come and enjoy. Even if they lose, it hurts them for a day or two, and then they’re okay.”

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First Published: Jul 29, 2017 16:45 IST