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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Studies and Spotlight

Labour laws ensure that shooting for most child actors on TV is scheduled after school hours,while parents want their complete focus on studies when they grow older.

Written by Dipti Nagpaul D'souza |
September 24, 2012 2:56:46 am

Labour laws ensure that shooting for most child actors on TV is scheduled after school hours,while parents want their complete focus on studies when they grow older.

Ever since her daughter turned three,Mrinmoyi Mukherjee had been receiving offers from model coordinators interested in casting the little one in ad films. But a professor at an engineering college,Mrinmoyi was not in favour of letting Amrita Mukherjee work so early in life. When she quit her job this year to be by Amrita’s side during her formative years,an invitation to audition for Balaji Production got Mrinmoyi curious.

Today,Amrita — better known as Ram and Priya’s daughter Pihu on Sony’s Bade Achhe Lagte Hain — is among the most popular child actors on Indian television. “I made it clear to the production house that no compromises will be made as far as her studies are concerned,” explains Mrinmoyi. Amrita is now available to shoot after school hours and the production house adjusts the shooting schedule to suit her school commitments and exams.

The issue of children acting in TV serials has been one of intense debate. In 2009,under pressure from child rights activists,the Maharashtra government had sent notices to TV production houses that had child artistes on board,pointing out the long and erratic schedules that the children were put through,often missing school for days to end. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting overruled this,but in return,ensured that no compromises are made as far as the children’s education and health is concerned. Ever since,most TV production houses ensure that child artistes are called on sets only after their school hours and given ample time to rest and study on the sets between breaks.

Rakshit Wahi,10,was so passionate about acting that his mother Jagruti Wahi let him audition for Sasural Simar Ka on Star Plus. But when he got a better offer from Parvarrish — Kuchh Khattee Kuchh Meethi on Sony,Star Plus let his track wane in order to accommodate the new show so that Rakshit’s studies didn’t suffer. “Often my on-screen mother,Rupali Ganguly,helps me with my homework,” says Rakshit. In case of 10-year-old twins Anmol and Apoorv Jyotir — separated twins Anand Diwan and Anand Chopra,respectively,in Parichay-Nayee Zindagi Ke Sapnon Ka on Colors — they have imbibed their love for acting from their father,Prashant Jyotir,a theatre and TV actor. While their parents are supportive of their aspirations for a career in acting,the boys have been given an ultimatum that studies should be their priority. “We study on the sets and get days off during exams,” explains Anmol,who says that they both usually score close to 80 per cent.

Parents believe that it is better if the show has more than one child artiste as it means that the child will have company to study and play with. It is imperative that one parent be with them on the sets as guardian. “I am usually there to ensure Amrita’s well-being. Since she is a child,there are times when the director needs me to explain to her a scene,especially the dramatic ones,” says Mrinmoyi. She recounts how she had to correct her daughter when,recently,while shooting the scene of Ram Kapoor’s heart attack,Amrita would start laughing.

It is not unusual that an early exposure to fame channels these children’s aspirations towards acting. While Rakshit dreams of becoming a “superstar”,Anmol is “focusing on a career as an actor,although studies will be pursued alongside”. Also,at a minor age,to have to work for up to 25 days a month — though it fetches a cool Rs 5,000 a day — with full-day shoots on weekends,can sometimes take a toll on the child’s health and education. To counter this,many parents wish to discontinue their ward’s acting careers “once studies get tougher”. Pallavi Hemdev,mother of four-year-old Dishti Hemdev,who features in Mann Kee Aawaaz Pratigyaa on Star Plus and Zee’s Punar Vivaah,wants her daughter to act till the age of six. “After that she needs to focus on studies,” she says.

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