New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) Ten-year-old Bhavya Mehra wanted to become the next Katrina Kaif but her introverted nature deterred her from participating in extra-curricular activities, particularly acting. A theatre workshop during her summer vacation last year transformed her and today she is all set to participate in a popular reality TV show.
"We knew she was shy but didn't want that to hamper her personality. We enrolled her in theatre... she is a changed person now and is attending a theatre workshop this year as well," said Anuradha Mehra, her mother.
"She is polishing her acting skills and hopefully participate in the next season of 'India's Best Dramebaaz'," added Mehra, a homemaker, who wants her daughter to be seen on the silver screen one day.
According to experts from the field, thanks to the internet and TV exposure, a growing number of children are harbouring a dream to be famous and are desperate for their 15 minutes of fame. Parents too are supporting them.
"I have encountered many instances where parents have come to me and asked whether their child can become the next Shah Rukh Khan or Katrina Kaif," Sukesh Arora of Yellow Cat Theater Society told IANS.
A slew of reality shows on TV where children usually between the ages of 5 and 15 years display their skills of acting, dancing and singing or even stand-up comedy have provided them a golden opportunity to get national recognition and a chance to make a career out of activities that one loves.
Shows like 'Dance India Dance Li'l Masters' on Zee TV, 'Voice of India Chote Ustad' on Star Plus, 'Chhote Miyan' on Colors and the soon to start 'Indian Idol junior' on Sony TV have caught the imagination of parents and children alike.
Many professionals as well as parents believe that theatre is perhaps the best beginning that a child could get, especially if he or she has a stage fright or is not confident enough.
As a result, a great number of acting and theatre workshops have sprung up across the national capital in recent times.
Most of these workshops have renowned faculty members from around the world to teach and train the children about the finer nuances of theatre.
"The rise in the number of parents wanting their kids to participate in acting workshops shows that people are aware that theatre offers an enriching and holistic experience for kids," Shashwat Srivastav of 'Actor Factor' theatre society, which has been organizing acting workshops for children in the capital since 2007, told IANS.
Srivastav even had to turn down a lot of applications from eager children who wanted to be part of a 15-day summer theatre workshop he has organized.
"The response has been phenomenal. We have a batch of 20 and had to turn down a number of applications."
Agreed Arora, who said that theatre is intrinsic to the development of kids, enabling them to think in a creative way.
"Most theatre workshops provide the necessary space for children to come out and collaborate with their peers. While Imagination and individuality are invariably nurtured, kids also learn the importance of team work," Arora told IANS.
Brian Herwood, Programme Director, Barry John Acting Studio, said that all children who join their workshops are interested in acting; it is not necessary that they want to become stars.
"We have encountered two categories of children who enroll in these workshops. While some are outgoing with a real zeal to exploit their acting prowess, there is another section which is pushed by parents to get rid of their shyness," Herwood said.
The studio is credited with the success of stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Freida Pinto, Arjun Kapoor, Manoj Bajpai and the latest kid on the block -- Varun Dhawan, son of director David Dhawan, whose film 'Students of the Year' was much talked about with youngsters.
So, dreaming of rubbing your shoulders with the stars or getting that 15 minutes of glory in front of the camera, theatre workshops are definitely a good way to arouse one's creative senses and getting that extra edge when one faces the camera.
(Venkatesan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)