KIDS’ REALITY SHOW DEBATE STILL RAGES
Celebrity show judges counter Taare Zameen Par screenwriter Amole Gupte’s criticism that talent shows disrupt the school years
More fuel has been added to the fiery debate around TV reality shows for children, with acclaimed filmmaker Amol Gupte now criticising how these shows keep children out of school. Before this, filmmaker Shoojit Sircar spoke of the mental stress that the contestants have to endure.
Countering their stance, celebrity judges of TV reality shows say that they ensure the children are treated well, and that giving children a platform for talent can’t be a bad thing.
Gupte, who wrote the story and screenplay for Taare Zameen Par (2007), a teacherstudent drama around letting childhood blossom, trounced the way children pass through these shows, missing school and then finding it difficult to get back to their peer groups.
Countering that, composer Vishal Dadlani, who has judged music reality shows, says, “Whenever I’ve done a children’s reality show, I’ve made sure that nothing goes wrong in terms of how they’re treated on the sets, and them attending school regularly.”
As for the intense rivalry the children are exposed to, Dadlani says, “It’s really important to learn the essence of sportsmanship, to learn how to compete fairly, and how to have fun while doing it. As long as the show is conducted in a way that protects childhood, I don’t see any issue.”
Filmmaker and show judge Remo D’souza says, “On the shows that I’ve judged, I have not seen any kid suffer.”
Actor Boman Irani, also a show judge, said earlier, “There are extracurricular activities in schools. When children are preparing for a school play, do we say that they are ‘working’? They’re enjoying themselves.”
However, clinical psychologist Pulkit Sharma says that being judged — and losing — so publicly can leave a deep impression. “Children don’t have that kind of a reasoning mind, where they can tell themselves, ‘There will be other opportunities to win.’ I’ve worked with children who participated in reality shows, and it’s very difficult for them to come back to normal life.”