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Minority Report: Child exploitation in film industry

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By: Amjad K. Maruf, IndiaFM
Thursday, June 07, 2007
I refer to the child exploitation in the entertainment industry. The recent case of the child artist, Ahsaas Channa, is one of the many cases where parents are using their kids for monetary gains. Ahsaas Channa is the one who acted in films like Vaastu Shastra, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and also appears in many advertisements on TV. Just spare a thought of what the girl must be going through mentally, biologically and physically at this tender age.

Director Mani Ratnam is a great example for child sexual exploiters in films. In Anjali, he made kids sing a sexually explicit song with suggestive visuals. You can find half-naked girl children in his Alai Payuthey and Kannathil Muthamittaal. It's always a girl child. I wish somebody from the alternative media exposed him, because the mainstream media is in awe of him.

Today, child artists have become a vital constituent of the film and advertising clique. These adorable little stars cast a magical spell on the screen. Fame and fortune is theirs for the asking. However, the other face of the coin presents a not-so-pretty picture.

Considering their tender age, they literally have to rough it whether in stuffy studios or out on treacherous locales. They are forced to keep odd hours and very often, studies take a backseat. Parents of these 'wonder children' invariably swear that their tiny-tots are in showbiz only because of their talent and not for the moolah. This, more often than not, is a blatant lie. It is a mere front to disguise their burning ambition of making huge amount of money. For, once the hen starts laying golden eggs, the quest for more and more outstrips all other considerations. Is this not a child labour?

All seem to turn a Nelson's eye to the statute that strictly prohibits child exploitation. Do the binding arc lights of the film and advertising world shroud this law? The greed of money and the desire to see their children on TV and big screen have made parents forget their real duty towards their children. Instead of making their children slog all through the year in film shootings the parents should make it the point to allow their children to shoot only on Holidays, if necessary.

There's no harm in children working in films and television but it should be ensured that their education and childhood does not suffer. These young children have a long life ahead to pursue their acting career and to fulfill the expectations and dreams of their parents. Till then let the innocence in the child remain.

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