Amole Gupte is not just a filmmaker who has worked with children. He cares deeply for children’s rights and has worked relentlessly towards eradicating pressures on juvenile lives through his acting workshop for children
Concerned about the long hours that children are forced to work Amole says, “I’ve been crying myself hoarse on the issue of children being forced to participate on reality shows for years. But to simply blame parents’ ambitions for this cruel and inhuman practice is absurd. Parents who pressurize their children to excel on reality shows are as much victims of a system that fosters end encourages unrealistic ambitions, as the other perpetrators of this criminal treatment of children.”
Amole shares harrowing inside information on how children are treated on these reality shows. “They are brought from distant towns to Mumbai and huddled into cheap hotels with their parents. Every morning they are supposed to travel to the TV studio for rehearsals. These kids are wrenched away from all normal activities and are thrown into a single-minded devotion to lending their voices to these reality shows. They are made to shoot for countless hours, sometimes in humid non-air conditioned rooms. It’s barbaric.”
Amole says he has seen what defeat can do to kids’ morale at that age. “They are shattered. They don’t know how to process the defeat into optimism. They feel as though they’ve fallen into a deep dark hole.”
The filmmaker who worked closely with Aamir Khan in directing little Darsheel Safary in Taare Zameen Par and also directed his son Partho in Stanley Ka Dabba, has just finished directing another child Khushmeet Gill in Sniff.
Amole says he treats the children’s shooting as a workshop. “The kids shoot when they want to. There is no pressure on them. I’ve seen what happens to these children during long hours of shooting. Once a two-year old child was shooting a Maggi noodles ad which I was directing. It was late in the night and the shooting was halted because the child was asleep. I saw the mother hissing and prodding the child to wake up. I went up to the mother and told her to please stop, that we will hold the shooting until the child is ready, even cancel it.”
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