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HT City: Minor girl...not a minor matter

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Friday, October 21, 2022
Sonal Kalra , Chief Managing Editor
Lifestyle & Entertainment, Hindustan Times.
FB: @sonalkalra Twitter: @sonalkalra
Insta: @kalra.sonal

Minor girl...not a minor matter

A short video featuring child actor and social media influencer Riva Arora with actor Karan Kundrra has taken the internet by storm and not in a positive way. In times of virality and 15-seconds-of-reels-fame, the now deleted piece, showing the 12-year old Arora chatting up a 38-year old Kundrra in a bar setting, has enraged people for sexualising a minor. Drink in hand and dressed in a thigh-high slit dress, the unsettling image of the girl brings to mind Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel Lolita. The parallel is uncanny – in Lolita, the 12-year-old protagonist is seduced (rather, molested) by a man aged 36 or 37 years old. After the video, people of the internet also speculated whether she was made to take steroids or go under the knife to look the part. Globally, as recent as 2011, fashion magazine Vogue Enfants, the kids’ supplement of the French magazine, pushed a 10-year old Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau on its cover, caked in heavy makeup and posing against leopard bedspreads. The cover drew criticism, without a doubt, but the beauty and fashion industry labelled it “inspiring”. Closer home, when Hansika Motwani, a once-famous child actor, made her Bollywood debut opposite Himesh Reshammiya in Aap Ka Surroor (2007), people were baffled at how grown up she looked, especially since her last film appearance in the Hrithik Roshan-starrer Koi... Mil Gaya (2003) where she still looked like the 12-year-old child that she was at the time.

Via giphy

     

Pushed by parents into fame and peddled as a commodity to appeal to a reel-hungry, Bollywood-obsessed audience, these acts are major red flags.The problem lies in the fact that it not only robs them off their childhood, but also exposes them to predators. As if the talent hunt reality shows where kids are made to cry and compete in an unhealthy way for TRPs were not enough, this episode with Riva raises more pertinent questions. Why would parents agree to do anything of this sort? In a way you are forcing a minor to not act her age but to act, dress, behave like a full-grown woman. No amount of fame or money justifies it. This makes a case for us to look inward. As consumers, we cannot be enablers of such content. And as makers, those involved in the arts should take a conscientious stand on safeguarding the rights of child actors and minors.

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Edited and curated by Etti Bali etti.bali@partner.hindustantimes.com . Produced by Samiksha Khanna samiksha.khanna@partner.htdigital.in . Till next week. Keep the raves and rants coming in at htcity@hindustantimes.com

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