Lights, Camera… The future !
By Padya Paramita
Once upon a time in Bangladesh, kids dreamt they could win the Oscar. Kids still dream today, but not of awards in acting.
A few years ago, when Facebook hadn't gained its fame and everyone didn't own a cell phone, the technology we had more time for was television. Television was what had kept everyone on their toes. Even the shows and serials on the Bangla channels were worth watching. Since we actually had the time to watch, there was an effort made to make them tolerable. Kids would watch advertisements and even TV shows along with their family. To attract them, more and more child actors would be brought along.
That era was golden for aspiring actors everywhere. The demand for them flew sky high, and back then RS was doing stories on them because they were, well, rising stars. They were inspiration for kids everywhere. Kids would have something to look forward to on television, aside from Pokemon, that too, in their own language.
One such actor was Zuhayr Reaz, who played the coveted role of Kabbo in the weekly family drama “Ekanno Barti” and had become a household name. Back when RS interviewed him in 2004, he was eleven. Catching up with him eight years later, he is about to leave for Maine to pursue higher studies. Zuhayr used to be, and sometimes still is recognised in the streets, and especially abroad where immigrants have a close connection with the deshi shows.
About the fading appearances of children on TV he believes that it was different when he was acting. “People loved me, every where I'd go, they'd enquire about my character or my show,” he says. “Today, I haven't heard much about any boy or girl who's acting regularly. I'm not sure if they lack the passion or the time. Those who were regularly acting a few years ago are now too grown to act or are caught up with their studies.”
We barely have time to tune into the TV nowadays, with downloads just a click away, let alone watch Bangla shows. The ads are the closest we come to watching TV. Kids have other attractions - be it Doraemon or their cellphones. They no longer watch boys and girls their age perform on screen. The children who have the slightest interest in the occupation work on advertisements. So they are in people's mind for one or two days at most.
There are kids out there who still do like to act. Those who are lucky have schools which hold plays, and if they have talent, they get a chance to showcase it. 15-year-old Muhtasim does it for fun and says that it's not only pursued by kids who want it as a career. “Although things like acting are fun, most people don't want futures in such aspects given the appeal of being a doctor or engineer in our society. I've done it because I find drama interesting.”
Auyon, now 16, has been starring in his school plays and musicals since the fourth grade. He is one of those who are always the firsts to sign up for an audition. “I've always loved acting, and all the effort required to pull off a play,” he says. “Given the choice I would definitely pursue a career in acting.” He also says that it is good to keep a backup plan as the chances of not making it big time are quite high.
Directors no longer can cast many kids in their programs because kids barely have time. They are either busy with schoolwork, coaching or other activities which they're urged to pursue such as music, art or learning a new language. Drama used to be on that list once upon a time, but people barely remember that. Another reason for this downfall in kids' interests in acting on television or even movies is the lack of appropriate role models. Our Khans and other random heroes are far from inspirational, rather a reason of mockery. The way people mock actors today can discourage any aspiring actor from taking a step in the profession.
A very talented friend of this writer, who has often displayed praiseworthy performances, secretly dreams of being a famous actor but has to succumb to the pressure of her parents. “Certain factors such as job, income uncertainty and social image affect our latter decisions. Luck plays a huge factor because I know I might not make it. So I really don't want to take huge risks, I'd rather tread the unconventional path.”
These kids have the talent and the Oscar dream does live in some hearts, but once they try to succeed, they find that they are discouraged. But how would you know if you don't take the chance? If you want to act, stop letting these so-called number one stars' failures discourage you from doing so. If you believe you got the talent, go showcase it to the world. Dreaming is the first step towards achieving.