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Child Artist under Mental Stress

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Child Artists, Child Artist, Child Actor, COVID-19, Lockdown
Image Courtesy: AP

Due to long lockdown and pandemic, many child artists of the Television and film industry are suffering with anxiety. The Father of a child artist told Afternoon Voice under the condition of anonymity, that “the schools are closed, no outdoor exposure, above all the fame that these kids were enjoying due to their roles in films and Tv serials came to standstill. These children’s mindset is very breakable, as they are addicted to attention-seeking, going out working for hours. All of a sudden there is a break on various fronts, that is not allowing them to be calm. Their behavior has become worrying because mental illness is their biggest concern”.

Child labor is the physical or mental labor of some economic value, which is committed by a child, with or without his/her consent. So, acting also fits in the definition of child labor. It is a physical activity, it has some economic value, and also done by a child although with consent. But there is a very small difference which makes it acceptable. This unwilling consent is the consequence of the bad circumstances which does not give a child any other option to survive. Now, during lockdown parent’s income is marginal, the child has no projects in hand so the frustration of the family gets vented out on their earning child artist.

Ankita (name changed to maintain privacy), who worked in various TV serials is the only earning member of her family of three, mother, father, and herself. Her parents gave up their jobs to be with their daughter full time for endorsements, modelling, and TV serials. She has worked in some films too. Her mother told Afternoon Voice “my daughter was our source of income; we both are dedicated to her career. During the long lockdown, we used all our savings for survival, there is huge house rent, car EMI, various other loans, and now no source of income”. My daughter understands the pressure, we don’t tax her but there is an unknown fear that bothers her, we are trying to solace her but sometimes things go beyond control”.

The showbiz goes back and forth with some not-so-discreet dialogues, socializing with the crew at the ungodly hour. You could be sleeping in the afternoon and working in the middle of the night one day and the next thing you know you have to completely turn your schedule upside down the following day because the role and/or the director demand so. A child laborer in a factory may receive anywhere between a fifth to half the wages an adult gets – and in extreme cases nothing. This is a non-issue for a child actor. A child laborer is severely exposed to workplace hazards. Though these days, due to social media scrutiny Infants and young kids are well watched. Producers are aware that any issues at that age could bring legal changes. But how much to offer an artist is always a contract between parents and directors. The money crunch is bothering everyone including these little artists.

Nikita, a child model for children’s clothes told our editor while speaking about her quarantined life, “these days whatever I demand or ask, my father says, beta you have no work, I have less income, so don’t request for anything”. When I used to refuse to go for a shoot, they used to bribe me with that I never asked for, today I am deprived of small demands.”

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