Guidelines to TV channels: No stress to kids
The TV industry and parents react to NCPCR’s new guidelines against mistreatment of television’s child stars
Divya Pal (BOMBAY TIMES; December 1, 2011)
The child actors you watch on the small screen may have all the makings of superstars. However, to ensure that these kids aren’t harried or pressurised by channels/parents to perform better, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has issued a new set of guidelines to regulate child participation in TV serials, reality shows and advertisements and sent it to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. From shielding kids from ridicule, to making it mandatory for producers to have a counsellor or child psychologist available on call, to preventing kids from doing sequences that are unsuitable for their age and not putting any child in stressful situations for a realistic portrayal, NCPCR’s new guidelines guarantee the psychological and physical well-being of child stars.
When we spoke to child actress Jannat Rahmani’s father, he appreciated NCPCR’s thoughtfulness. “These guidelines should be implemented to ensure no child actor succumbs to anxiety,” said Zubair Rahmani. But as a parent, didn’t he have qualms in letting his daughter essay the role of a girl married (and wearing sindoor) to a 30-something dacoit? “I had explained the sequence to Jannat and told her that child marriage happens in rural areas. This was to ensure that playing the role of a married girl didn’t leave a negative impact on her.”
Ulka Gupta was just 12 when she got the offer to play Manu in Jhansi Ki Rani. Her mother says, “I agree with NCPCR’s guidelines which state that child actors shouldn’t do scenes depicting violence, verbal or physical.”
Imitaz Punjabi, director of Parvarish – Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi defends the telly industry, “Why can’t action be taken against those who employ underage kids in tea shops? Hum toh phir bhi child labour nahi kara rahe. Hum apne serials mein bachchon par pressure nahin dalte hain.”
SOME OF THE GUIDELINES
• Participation of kids in entertainment programmes may be done on holidays
• Child psychologist/ counsellor to be available on call
• No child should be made to perform or enact scenes or mouth dialogues that are inappropriate for his/her age.
• A parent /guardian should be present during shooting
• Remarks by the judges oan reality shows should be encouraging
• Age-appropriate regulation on the number of hours a child can shoot in a day.
• A child shall only participate in one shift per day, with a break after every hour
• Infants below the age of three months can only participate in programmes on promotion of breastfeeding or immunisation.
• A baby should not be exposed to harmful lighting; irritating or contaminated cosmetics; persons with a contagious medical condition.