There has been much hue-and-cry over a video on the Internet which shows a child struggling to study his numbers and the mother/teacher scaring him into learning. The female is so determined about the child’s education that she completely disregards the child’s repeated pleas crying: “pyaar se padhaiyye.”
Virat Kohli is shook. Social media is shook. The nation is shook.
While this is an extremely disturbing video, I really want to throw light on something else. Something which happens around us, the results of which we enjoy over snacks and tea in our drawing rooms. In fact, we enjoy at the expense of child actors.
There was this dance reality show called “Dance Bangla Dance” which aired on Zee Bangla even last year. It was a very enjoyable show where talented children danced (made to dance?) to songs like Sheila Ki Jaawaani, Baby Doll, and the likes. And they were applauded because of their “sexy moves”.
Now, wait a minute. I’m not condoning the dances or the child actors and that is not even the point here. The show had some serious talent and they have my best wishes.
The point is the anchor. And the greater point is the child actor who was the sidekick. Initially, the show was hosted by a child actor named Aritra who was more on the overweight side and thus subject to ridicule.
Then came his sidekick: Bittu aka Srimoy Dey. Throughout all the aired seasons (this year’s is yet to air), Bittu has been subject to ridicule because of his obesity. The director thinks a morbidly obese child to be a very funny thing. Also, the celebrity judges seem to be falling off their chairs, laughing at Bittu’s predicament.
A predicament over which he has no choice. Morbid obesity is often genetic and sometimes could point to some underlying illnesses. I do not know his case history but what I do know from my meager knowledge of psychiatry is this: Bittu will grow up to be an extremely body image conscious person who will never learn to respect his body.
Not a single episode passed where the boy was not subject to ridicule and thinly-veiled-insults because of his body type. To the showmakers, he was the only comic relief. They dressed him up in ostentatious clothes, made him do humiliating things and we the audience, got hilarious kicks out of seeing him like that. The spectators on the set roared with laughter and the television audience slapped their thighs in hilarity.
Yet, today we are all such self-righteous pricks who are outraged over the aforementioned video.
In an interview, Bittu has often expressed his desire to lose weight. But, but, but, entertainment and TRP are infinitely more important than some child’s health. So, he is warned by the director when he loses even a little bit of weight. Wait, there is worse: his mother force feeds him to maintain his morbidly obese state lest her son loses employment!
At the age of 6, Bittu weighed 37 kgs. Instead of encouraging him to adopt a healthy lifestyle, everybody is ensuring that he grows up to be an extremely insecure man.
In the world of Indian television, Bittu is just an example. There are so many shows which misuse child actors and are aired uninhibitedly on national television. Child actors are taught to stalk (ever heard of Pehredaar Piya Ki?), taught to enact villainy to the point that the audience starts hating them, taught to be mean to others, plot, scheme and even aid in crimes like kidnapping (say hello to Potol Kumar Gaanwaala).
However, it all goes down well with us. The CBFC is not okay with kissing in the movies and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is perfectly content with the portrayal and popularisation of child marriage in TV shows.
Image credits: Google
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