Behind Bollywood, parental abuse emerges as shocking reality


On Monday, stand-up comedian Sidharth Sagar made serious allegations against his parents, mainly his mother, whom he accused of squandering away all his hard-earned money, leaving him penniless, homeless and institutionalised for a mental disorder that he said he never suffered fro

On the other hand, his mother says Sidharth is addicted to drugs and becomes uncontrollable when he takes them. She told journalists that she had made efforts to get him out of the habit.

Sidharth's accusations sound disturbingly close to what veteran actress Sarika went through. Working from the age of four, and making quite a name for herself as a child actor, Sarika grew up thinking she had a fat bank balance to fall back on. But one fine day she was told by her mother that there was no money. Sarika left her home penniless and slept in her car for a week.

Siddarth's case is not just tragic, but also bizarre. He claims his mother, whom he loved and trusted unconditionally, first separated him from his spiritual guru, then declared him mentally unfit, feeding him wrong medication camouflaged in his food, had him thrown into rehabilitation (for substance abuse, which Sidharth admits being guilty of) and then admitted into a mental asylum where, he claims, he was thrashed regularly by a group of men before being rescued by his managers.

Strangely, Sidharth doesn't remember the name of the mental asylum where he was tortured for days.

This is a breathtaking drama of deception and escape. Sidharth broke down while narrating it. The question is how much of it can we believe and how much of it is simply an aggrieved son's imagination?

What may have happened to Sidharth is not uncommon in the entertainment business. Sarika, as I said, lost all her money and severed all ties with her mother. The legendary Nutan took her mother, the actress Shobana Samarth, to court over a property dispute. Sridevi and her sister were at loggerheads over their mother's property.

But none of the above disputes got as ugly as Sidharth Sagar's.

While the merit of his accusations need to be examined closely, there is a likelyhood that this young man has been treated unfairly by people close to him. What makes money such a poor unifier? What gives parents the right to treat their children as money-making machines, often at the risk of exposing them to unmentionable dangers? Pratyusha Bannerjee, who committed suicide two years ago, was allegedly pushed into television by her parents whom she supported financially even when broken from within.

Daisy Irani has spoken of how she was raped at the age of six by her guardian.

What makes some parents perpetrators of cruel acts which forfeit the childhood of their children? Pushing kids to perform for the camera and usurping their hard-earned money for self-gratification was a trend that started during the time when Shirley Temple won America's collective heart.

Today, when Sidharth Sagar accuses his Mommy Dearest of taking away his money and mental equilibrium, we can only wonder whether there is need for a law protecting performing children from exploitation by their near ones.(IANS)