Pushing kids to the edge of the stage!

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By: Dimple Sarma

For decades we’ve had issues of children being subjected to tremendous pressure to perform in schools and contests. And of late, add to the gruelling school curriculum, the reality shows on TVs and other media. Our kids are suffocating!

The reality shows probably began with the Big Brother and still continues with so many dancing, singing, acting and fashion contests, in millions of reality show programmes being hosted for various age groups beamed on the channels in every possible language. And children are a major target. It is of course all about TRP for the TV channels more than showcasing the talents.

While reality shows have played a very important role in making celebrities out of ordinary people, big names in India being Shreya Ghoshal, Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chouhan and from Assam we’ve taken pride in Nahid Afreen and Bishal Sarma among other kids stars. Audiences were introduced to a host of hidden talents that they never thought existed in the country. Although channels became more interesting to watch, the reality TV shows have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Unlike the west, the perception about reality shows in India can be said to be somewhat different, in terms of psychological support provided to the children.

Parents’ take on the reality shows does determine the behaviour of the children in dealing with victory or loss, the latter doing more damage than good.

The India TV reality shows have never been short of controversies, some of which have been bizarre. It has always remained a debatable issue.

On a positive note, Indian viewers have got exciting and colourful programmes to watch on TVs. The reality shows have turned entertainment upside down. These shows have become so popular that a craze has swept into the young generations, who now get a platform to shine.

The talent shows on TV have rise to lakhs of talent honing schools and kids are getting extra busy singing, dancing, acting or painting to prepare for the larger and more glamorous stage that will not just bring fame but also money. The reality shows are also about rag to riches stories for many kids.

But are kids able to handle this fame and money? Sa Re Ga Ma Pa 2011 winner Azmat Hussain, who had won the hearts then as a 10 year old cute child singer admitted when he returned to contest for this year’s Indian Idol contest that he had got into drugs and was ruining his life. For many families fame and money is too risky to handle.

Besides, most of the reality shows are pre-scripted to suit the channel, producers, promoters and partners in the shows. It is the TRP which will ultimately bring in huge money for the channels in terms of advertisements.

The winners on the other hand also have to deal with the negative aspects that come with fame. Too much fan following and over-booking for stage shows. Everywhere they go, there will be people flocking, accosting them for selfies and autographs. Their movements get restricted now. Fame also hampers the academic performance of many kids. If the TV channel gives, it also takes as part of the deal which the winners make.

Parents are culprits too. Overnight stardom, glamour, money, contract with leading brands, makeover not only attracts children, but also many over-ambitious parents. There are adults who break down to tears when rejected, one can imagine the pains and trauma of little children. In high intensive TV show contests there are a handful of winners and a hundred losers. Well-bred children do learn to handle failures, but in a typical Indian society, failure means rejection and that begets depression. Children are often left to suffer long years of trauma of rejection. There are instances when judges are too harsh on the contestants in the audition rounds.

Many celebrities are now coming out to demand for a complete ban on reality shows involving kids. These voices of dissent are not without reason. TV performances demand grueling long hours of physically exhaustive rehearsals which even adults fail to withstand at times. There are instances of actors collapsing in the sets. And to think of children having to undergo the pressure to impress the large audience!

Psychiatrists find the whole thing shocking, demoralising and dangerous. It is a matter of concern that children have to face emotional shocks and humiliation in front of a national audience. Despite all the negative aspects, parent have little problems pushing their little ones to perform and so the show goes on.

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