Darsheel Safary, the wonder boy who got prominence after success of Tare Zameen Par, is feeling something has been changed in his life at his school. During a press conference when asked about his friends, he said “They’ve changed totally. I only have some friends left… maybe six in all. The rest have all left me. They’re all the time trying to pull me down. They’re a little jealous of me. When I’m passing by in my car, they go ‘Hey Darsheel Darsheel. Photo, photo’. But I’m happy with my six friends.” Then he added I don’t know why my friends have changed. May be because I’ve acted in a movie. “
Like adults, the relationships in childhood also face dynamic motions. Accomplishment with good money should perceptibly affect the relationship among kids also. It’s not the scenario where a kid’s parents get rich because here his parents can change the school but here is the case of kid’s own earning which he even can’t understand. For other students in Darsheel’s class he may be a matter of covetousness but apart from this resentment factor what will happen to Darsheel in over all sense? After getting that kind of fame at that early age, will he be able to ponder on his studies like he used to do before TZP’s offer came to him? Being part of a thriving film means many more offers and that means more money and more recognition and then it’s almost certain that studies will be affected. This is pretty hilarious that almost all the governments all over the world make hue and cry when children are used in a work where manual work is concerned and its called child labor but when it comes to the case of art or acting like area and here it’s seen as a good thing. A young boy can’t work where his physical power is used but he can work at that place and in that field where his mental power or some artistic skills are used. Does populace ever think about these so called artistic kids?
Many times child actors have to give shots where they have to pass through a lot of mental trauma. There are rules to stop child labor as governments think what developed nation forced them to think. A child used in the weaving work because s/he has small and thin figures which work good in the weaving is seen as an exploited child because his parents are poor and they send their child to work at early age but if same poor parents send their kids to work in films then its not understood as child labor.
During 1990, Dilip Ghosh, a FTII graduate, made a documentary on child actors in Hindi cinema called CHILDREN OF THE SILVER SCREEN. The film was screened at film festivals. It explored the blood and tears behind the chubby faces of people who were once famous as child actors but could not make it when they turned adult. Naaz, who was once famous as Baby Naaz (BOOT POLISH) and was said to be charging more than some stars of the time, said in camera that she came back home to parents who fought all the time and forgot to give her a proper meal. She was never allowed to touch a paisa of her earnings and was thrust into adult roles much before she turned eighteen.
Daisy Irani, another famous child star of the Fifties, said that she failed twice in the same class because she could not attend school having to report for shoots at all times of day and night. “My mother took the easy way out - she took me out of school and sent me back to the studios.” Her mother would pinch her hard when she refused to cry in sad scenes. “I was allowed to save money in a piggy bank. But my parents would never allow me to open the bank and find out how much money it had. One day, I opened it secretly and was shocked to find just a few coins at the bottom,” she recalls. The directors spoiled her rotten and she grew into a studio brat who no one could tolerate but were forced to smile at. After marriage and three kids, Irani says she feels sorry for her mother “because she did not know what she was doing to me, and more so, to herself.”
Her kid sister, Honey Irani went through a similar grueling childhood till she married Javed Akhtar and later shifted focus to write stories and scripts for films.
Baby Guddu, a very successful child actor of the eighties, was pushed into films by a father who claimed to be a ‘producer’ and a mother who had starry ambitions for herself that failed to come about. “She is brilliant in studies,” said the mother to this writer in an interview, “but we have put her in films because she is very talented and we allow her to do this purely as a hobby.” Really? Which ‘hobby’ fattens the parents’ bank balance like a career in films do, tell me? What happened to the poor little rich girl no one knows…But we can assume the little girl coming back from school in uniform, dog tired at the end of the day, only to be asked to freshen herself up as she had to report for a night shoot.
Not always kids get easy jobs in the films. Remembering here an incidence mentioned by late Balraj Sahni. He writes that once a film unit took his son Ajay Sahni (Parikshit Sahni) for a small role. Later when he reached there he found that Ajay was made to hang from a high place and he was crying with fear. Obviously Balraj Sahni became very angry and scolded the director and producer for their nonsense cruel behaviour towards a child and immediately took Ajay back to the home.
It was Baby Khushboo who had worked in the film Dard ka Rishta (1982) and she was around 12 years old then and by the year 1985 she had started coming as an adult heroine. Even at that time media used to mention that in some cases Hormonal therapy was working and injections were given to some Baby this and Baby that to make them women, owning fully developed bodies, so that they could start earning big amounts for their families.
Dimple Kapadia was in school when she did Bobby and clearly it was difficult to pursue studies after the bumper success of Bobby.
Rekha had to start working in the films at very young age because she was the only earner in her family. Her first director and hero of the film even managed to take a kiss scene without even informing her and hero had suddenly kissed her. It was a clear case of sexual exploitation but nobody bothered.
Times have changed but the reality of the child star/actor/model has not. Hamsika who caught the attention of filmmakers with her brilliant performances in television serials and films, was pushed into adulthood as leading lady opposite Himesh Reshamiya in Aap Ka Suroor
No teenage crushes, no disco-hopping or party-dancing, no playing loud music at odd hours, no boyfriend because the word ‘adolescence’ does not exist in the book of her life. Whether she will make it as leading lady is beside the point. The point is that she has missed out on a solid education, on friendships, on dating and split-ups - things that form the journey from teenage to adulthood. In the past, child actors were browbeaten and persecuted by their parents and families. Today, it is the same story with the media adding to the treachery by ensuring that child actors like Darsheel are martyred for a cause that does not exist - media-hype at the wrong time and place that could destroy their lives and careers everlastingly.