More celebs voice their concerns on kids participating in ‘Reality Shows’

Bollywood film director Shoojit Sircar is the latest celebrity to say that reality shows for kids should be banned. Here we talk to various film celebrities to get their views on whether reality shows are good or bad for children.

SaReGaMaPa Little Champs, Super Dancer on Sony, Junior Masterchef India, The Voice Kids, Indian Idol Junior, DID Li’l Masters, India’s Best Dramebaaz are just few of the reality shows for kids that are quite popular on television. And there are many more that are being planned.

However, there are many parents who don’t agree to exposing their children to the world at such a tender age.

While the positive thing about such shows is that its a nice medium to display your kids talents at a very young age, the downside is that it puts a lot of pressure on the kids. It’s not that kids make money doing these shows, channels don’t play the children.

  • A little, blind boy made it to the finals of a singing contest. Throughout the day he was rehearsing under gruelling circumstances for his song and finally at 1 am when he was to record, he lost his voice. The child was traumatised for life.
  • A young girl who was a reality show participant suffered a paralytic attack reportedly because of the harsh comments of the judges on her performance in a reality show.
  • An 11 year old allegedly committed suicide because her parents barred her from participating more in a dance reality show.

The fear of rejection makes them put more pressure on themselves. Most of the kids also start talking and behaving like kids, robbing them of their innocence. Because of the pressure, children are being forced to behave adult-ish, and that’s where the big problem lies.

Here’s what our film celebs have to say:

Director Shoojit Sircar: Children undergo a lot of pressure in reality shows and that he would request the authorities to ban kids in reality shows. The child is scrutinised in front of the world at an age, when talent really doesn’t matter. At that age, children are supposed to enjoy and do what they feel good about.

Singer Shaan (hosted Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs and was also a judge on the singing reality show): I didn’t involve myself in children’s reality shows for a few years because during L’il Champs in 2006, I noticed the amount of pressure on the kids. It was tremendous. Some of them even continue to play that same image which got formed during the show. At that age, it is not easy to switch on and switch off. They start talking and behaving in the same way, and that doesn’t allow them to grow.

“A reality show winner had that big round pink blush on cheeks, even when she had grown up. You know how children get make-up done. I asked ‘You are 19, so why would you still do that?’ She said, ‘People like it’,” recalled Shaan. He is clearly not okay with it.

Amole Gupte, Director: “I’ve been crying myself hoarse on the issue of children being forced to participate in reality shows for years. But to simply blame parents’ ambitions for this cruel and inhuman practice is absurd. Parents, who pressurise their children to excel on reality shows, are as much victims of a system that fosters and encourages unrealistic ambitions, as the other perpetrators of this criminal treatment of children.”

“They are brought from distant towns to Mumbai and huddled into cheap hotels with their parents. Every morning, they have to travel to the TV studio for rehearsals. These kids are wrenched away from all normal activities and are thrown into a single-minded devotion to lending their voices to these reality shows. They are made to shoot for countless hours, sometimes in humid non-airconditioned rooms. It’s barbaric,” says Amole Gupte

Arshad Warsi, Actor (Judge on one such show): “Reality shows provide a platform to children who are gifted and have above-average capabilities to dance, act and sing. What a loss it would be if their talents were not brought to light and displayed to the world! There was a time when we didn’t have reality shows. Films were the only way forward. If Urmila Matondkar and Daisy Irani’s parents had not let them try the medium, would we really have found them on our own? ”

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Dinesh Rathore, COO, Madison Media Omega: I think it is a personal decision of the child and the parent. If they are able to handle fame and pressure, they should come to participate. There is no morality on this topic. This is not the responsibility of the channel.

K Srinivas Rao, National Director, Buying, MediaCom: While it is true that these shows offer a platform to showcase talent, there’s too much of pressure from parents, performance, viewers, ratings and this is not good for kids’ psyche in the long run.

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Deepak Rajadhyaksha, Deputy Business Head, Zee TV: Our attempt, over the years, has been to spot truly deserving raw talent and hone their skills through exposure to the right mentors, jury members and some of the finest singers, music composers and experts in the industry. Most of this immense talent would go unnoticed otherwise.

“Reality shows for children are not a healthy concept. These children are under a lot of stress. The harsh comments of the judges at times can be difficult for them to handle. Adults are mature and can handle criticism and failure well, but children have still not reached that level of maturity. They may take criticism or rude remarks very seriously. They may feel humiliated if they are given a negative comment on their performance on national television,” says a senior psychologist.

While there are many who see the positive side of these reality shows for kids, they are exactly not sure how to deal with / eliminate the negatives. Please share your comments here on this debate.