By Arundhuti Banerjee
Mumbai, Nov 7 (IANS) National Award-winning actress Tannishtha Chatterjee, who is playing a pivotal role in the upcoming film ‘Jhalki’, which addresses the issue of child labour in India, says though we constantly talk about how children are the future of the nation, the thought does not reflect on children’s policy and in our society.
Asked about how she looked at the contrasting situation, Tannishtha told IANS: “I think it is a dichotomy that, as an individual family, we always prioritise the wellbeing of our children. In a middle-class family, the monthly budget revolves around the needs of children — their food, education, and happiness. We show our love and affection towards our children and yet as a society, we face this problem of child labour. In every development projects, we are only thinking about adults and not how a child would benefit from the project.”
Citing the example of how not many children’s films are made, the actress mentioned: “The approach should be futuristic instead of short-term thinking. Look at our Indian films — we say the family entertainment genre is the most profitable but are we noticing that when we make a film on children, the whole family comes and watch it! A child will not come and watch the film in the theatre alone right?”
“Neither have we created fictional characters in cinema like the western world, nor did we make films where the child is the protagonist.
Do we really get to know the inner conflict of a child through a film? ” said Tannishtha who adopted a girl child last month.
Directed by Brahmanand Siingh, “Jhalki” features Boman Irani, Sanjay Suri, Divya Dutta, Govind Namdev and two young actors, Aarti and Goraksha.
Asked about how the film opened the door for her to know the intensity of child labour issue in India, Tannishtha said: “I got an insight into how hard Kailash Satyarthi has been working on the issue of child labour, and the struggle that he faced throughout, and the life-threatening danger it involves. The nexus is so huge that breaking the chain of the racket is very tough.”
The actress also emphasised the responsibility of the government to put a much bigger budget on the education, and to make their education mandatory. She said that the programs should be well designed by involving parents to expose and make them aware of the importance of education, since they are sending their children to work instead of school.
“It is a cycle, because those parents who are sending their children to work, were treated in the same manner in their childhood. So we also need a conversation on sensible parenting,” she said, adding: “While there is no denying the fact that the government has the responsibility to make more policies to stop child labour, the primary responsibility of a child is on the parents and not on policymakers.”
She also mentioned how education on family planning is important to resolve the issue of child labour. “There was a time when in every village, the government took initiative to create awareness on family planning — like the ‘Hum Do, Humare Do’ campaign. In the last few years, because of capitalism, the government realised that human capital is important for infrastructural development, and that is how childbirth has been encouraged. A child does not come to this world by choice, parents are responsible for that. If they do not have the education on birth control, unknowingly, they will bring new lives to the world, and they will remain poverty-stricken.”
Is it because children are not a vote bank? “That is such a short-term thinking! I as a voter would choose a government that offers a good policy to my children because they are the future of the nation! The world belongs to the children of today, who will become the adults of tomorrow!”
‘Jhalki’ releases on November 14.
(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at email@example.com)