Children, they say, are the harbingers of joy and love. And in the case of channels they bring eyeballs too. Little wonder then, that kids have taken centre stage on the small-screen with producers enlisting them to either play cupid between warring adults , estranged parents (Parichay, Bade Acche Laggte Hai, Hitler Didi) or weaving stories completely around them (Parvarrish). This is apart from the fare on kids channels. Primetime serials on entertainment channels are booming with kids, age no bar. Rajan Shahi who produces Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, that has a one year old baby in it, says children have a great connect with the audience and help in bonding with the characters. “They are a big draw,” he confesses.
Consequently, actors now are increasingly having children as their co-stars. However, it’s not all fun and games on the sets, either for kids or the grown-ups. Gurmeet Choudhary who is shown to be a father of two kids in Punarvivah says, “Kids with me are really small, aged four and six and can get very cranky. We have to be very patient with them. Also we have to develop a good rapport with them off screen so that they are comfortable with us. We play and adjust our time with them and improvise impromptu to make it easy for them.”
Dilip Joshi who plays father to a 10-year-old boy in Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chasmah found it difficult initially as he had to do several retakes. “Kids are are not trained actors. Fortunately, Tapu (child actor Bhavya Gandhi) happened to be a fast learner and now after four years of shooting has learned the tricks of the trade and become a professional,” he says appreciatively.
Shruti Seth candidly admits that she feels exasperated when the kids she works with in Suite Life of Karan get distracted. “We are working against strict time lines and when kids forget their lines, it becomes a bit of a problem,” she admits. And, yet, Shruti says the pros far outweigh the cons. “The greatest learning from kids is to forgive and forget. Children never hold a grudge, and are always ready with a warm hug and a big smile. Most importantly, they keep the child alive in you,” she says. Deepika Samson who plays a mother to a two-month old baby in Sasural Simar Ka agrees. Though she initially found it tough to handle the infant, she is now so adept that if her real mother wants to go somewhere, the baby is left with Deepika. “A kid spreads so much happiness and warmth that I feel rejuvenated,” she smiles.
Rupali Ganguly finds working with children in Parvarrish enlightening. “They are my new teachers be it in operating the new I-Pad, Blackberry, knowing the latest songs, fashion, the works. It’s a delight,” she gushes. She has one problem though and that is, “Kids always steal the show!”