“Child actors’ stardom depends on how their parents keep them stay grounded to reality”

Children's Film Society revived; National Film Development Corporation of India will look into its affairs: BIFFES Director Ashok Kashyap

ByShashiprasad S M

Published Mar 25, 2023 | 10:15 AMUpdated Mar 25, 2023 | 10:15 AM

“Child actors’ stardom depends on how their parents keep them stay grounded to reality”

With only a few children’s films hitting the theatres for various reasons, including commercial aspects, the way forward for them doesn’t look promising.

So, what are the crucial elements that need to be focused on for reviving children’s films and most importantly, the effect of stardom on child actors in the age of social media and reality shows?

Master Manjunath, Master Anand, and Hema Panchamukhi who made it big as child actors in the Kannada film industry shared their experiences as “child actors”.

During a session on “Children’s Films — Way Forward” held at the ongoing 14th Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFES) in Bengaluru on 24 March, they also made some suggestions on children’s films.

Keep it normal and stay grounded

A majority of the child actors who make it big at a young age often fail when they turn adults.

“Be it myself (Master Anand), Manjunath or Hema ma’am. Children’s films prove that we have managed to stay relevant and that the audience still loves us. However, a lot depends on how kids are brought up during their days as star actors,” explains Anand.

a session on children's film at biffes

Speakers at the session on “Children’s Films – Way Forward” at the 14th BIFFES. (Supplied)

He felt that parents must keep their actor-children to stay grounded and make them aware of reality.

No special treatment

Talking about his side of the story, Master Manjunath said he was never treated specially by his parents.

“My parents were working and they never gave me any special treatment because I was doing good as a child actor,” he quipped.

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“The moment I entered the house after the shooting, I was treated as normal as any child. They made it clear that I would not return to films if I don’t do well in my studies.”

Hema Panchamukhi chips in: “Back then, it was a challenge to perform alongside senior actors. It was like a daily examination for us child artists.”

Low-budget ventures

It’s no secret that children’s films are mostly categorised as low-budget ventures. But why is it that we don’t find many movies for kids?

Reacting to this, Master Anand said the reason behind lesser children’s films being made in India is the commercial aspects attached to them.

“Even the subsidy and funds offered to boost children’s films in India are limited. Hence the quality of content and making are poorer than what we see when compared to Hollywood ventures that are made based on comic characters and publications,” he explained.

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Anand suggested that corporate industries which usually have funds allocated for various social causes need to be approached to seek financial assistance in making children’s films with good content and better standards.

‘We have our legacy as an inspiration’

session on children's films at biffes

Speakers at the session on “Children’s Films – Way Forward” at the 14th BIFFES. (Supplied)

The three actors expressed that Indian culture, history, and mythology have so much to offer based on which numerous fantasy films, like how Hollywood has been doing, can be made with far and superior quality.

“Most of the fantasy children’s films made in Hollywood look like a polished version of what Indian culture, history, and mythological characters are. There is no dearth of inspiration, technology, and quality filmmakers in India. All it needs is the right opportunity and approach,” they asserted.

“Even the digitisation and the influence of social media on young minds have made it a challenge for filmmakers to keep them patiently seated for at least 60-90 minutes,” they added.

Children’s Film Society revived

Before concluding, BIFFES Director and Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy Chairman Ashok Kashyap informed that the Children Film Society, which was not functioning for some time, has been revived.

The National Film Development Corporation of India will look into its affairs.

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“They are already inviting filmmakers to produce more children’s movies. Even I have pitched in content with the title ‘Deva Bhoomi’ where I plan to cast Vamshika (daughter of Master Anand) as a child actor. I’m sure that Pan-Indian children’s films will soon be a reality,” Kashyap added.