Fenil and Bollywood

Child artist forced to work for 22 hours non-stop

Posted on: January 9, 2010

Debutant director Ajay Monga forced a little boy to shoot for 22 hours at a stretch, sprinkled water on his face whenever he dozed off

By Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; January 07, 2010)

For someone who has written two of Madhur Bhandarkar’s critically acclaimed films (Corporate and Fashion), Ajay Monga definitely had set his sights high for his directorial debut Padduram.

The film required a child actor but Monga, who wanted Darsheel Safary to play the lead, quickly changed his mind after the Taare Zameen Par star demanded an astronomical fee – over Rs 1 crore. He finally settled for 11-year-old Shubham Kataria, signing him for a paltry Rs 1 lakh.

// // // But while Monga made a substantial saving, it was the beginning of a traumatic experience for the little boy. Shubham was made to shoot for 22 hours hours at a stretch, from 6 am to 4 am the next day. His mother, Dimple Kataria, who accompanied him for the shoot in Indore, was shocked at the way he was being pushed but took it in her stride the first time. But the very next day, Monga again didn’t pack-up on time.

Unable to bear the way her son was being treated, Dimple had a massive showdown with Monga and even asked him point blank whether he would’ve dared to treat Darsheel so shabbily. In a fit of rage she stormed off the sets, taking Shubham with her to the hotel. Recounts the anguished mother, “The worst part was that every time I told Monga to pack-up, he would say ‘Bas, 15 minutes aur’. My son started feeling very sleepy after 11.30 pm. A unit hand would come and sprinkle water on him to wake him up. Shubham would give his shot and just when he was nodding off again, someone would again sprinkle water on him and take him for another shot. I really lost my temper.”

Ajay Monga (right) with child actor Shubham Kataria (inset)

Dimple also complained about the less than satisfactory arrangement Monga had made for them in Indore. “I even had a word about this with Monga but he said that he couldn’t provide any better accommodation,” she says. “But that’s not my main grouse. I just want to understand, how can he (Monga) ask a child to shoot for 22 hours for two consecutive days?”

Monga, who did not deny the allegation, simply shrugged, “Yes, Shubham’s mother did get very angry in Indore. But I allowed Shubham to sleep during breaks. I had no alternative as I had to pack-up the shoot in Indore on a stipulated date.”

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