Free Press Journal

Mumbai: Create conducive work environment for child actors, demands expert panel


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Mumbai: In a first-of-its-kind dialogue on how child artists are rarely looked upon as labourers in the film industry, a panel discussion hosted by child rights organisations threw light on how there is a need to create a conducive environment during the shoots for the child actors on Tuesday.

The discussion, which was organised by CRY Child Rights and You, UNICEF, and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), was held keeping in mind the World Day against Child Labour. Among the panelists were Amol Gupte, Actor and Film Maker; Divya Dutta, Actor; Seema Hingorrany, Clinical Psychologist; Pravin Ghughe, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and Ashwin Kakatkar, Deputy Labour Commissioner.

Child artists came under the purview of law only in the recent amendment of Child Labour (Prohibition And Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016. However, they stand as an exception as they are allowed work with certain rules keeping in mind their consent, working hours, permission needed from the authorities concerned, school timings and so on.

Pravin Ghughe, Chairperson of Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights pointed out the role of the parents in this issue. “It is the parents who try to realise their dreams through their children not really understanding the pressure their child has to go through,” he said.

Also Read: Revive 14-member supervisory committee to end child labour: Bombay High Court tells Maharashtra government

He further emphasised on how there is a need for concrete rules pertaining to the Act in Maharashtra. “There is no mechanism in place to act proactively on this issue. Implementing the guidelines is the need of the hour,” he added.

Sharing her experience on how the child actors are sometimes forced to work overnight by their parents, actor and psychologist Divya Dutta said, “Some parents don’t pay heed to their child’s sleep cycle or are even made to miss school for a particular movie. I have seen a child being forced out of its sleep to give a shot. It is important to consider their needs, listen to them. The fame and glamour which comes with the entertainment industry gives them the high. Self-implementation is a must else the child is robbed of his childhood.”

Raising awareness and counselling the child artists, their parents and principals is essential, said Amol Gupte, Actor and Film Maker. “Why should they be taken out of school? The child stops liking the anonymity of being a child. We should look at the American and European film industry rules and follow it in our industry,” he said.

“Changing the rules and considering the comfort of the child is important. In Stanley ka Dabba, I ensured that the movie was shot during the holidays and the children participated in the workshops. That’s how the film was made. I changed the rules for filming children,” he added.

Let alone movies, reality shows are no different. Clinical Psychologist, Seema Hingorrany stated how reality shows are spiking the rate of depression among the artists. “Not only stringent guidelines, the co-workers should empathise with the artists and alter their work environment accordingly.”

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