“My mother means the world to me. She wants me to stand first in class and do many movies. I hope to make her happy and proud,” says Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, the youngest Jamal Malik in Danny Boyle’s Oscar odyssey Slumdog Millionaire. For the 10-year-old child artiste, the second of three siblings, it was the ultimate debut in movies. Especially when he won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (shared with ten other cast members), and a 2008 British Independent Film Award nomination for Most Promising Newcomer in 2009.
Child artistes have come a long way from the innocent grey-eyed Jugal Hansraj in Shekhar Kapur’s Masoom to Avika Gor in Balika Vadhu. Gone is the rare innocence, the gurgling appeal in their laughter and the ease. It has been replaced by the confident vivacity and zealous affinity for the camera. Take Ayush. His affair with the camera began when he was four, and soon he was endorsing tons of adfilms from washing powder to biscuits. Call it living the parental dream, although some parents do choose to strike a balance between work, play and posing in front of the camera.
“I have always scheduled shoots during the vacations for my son,” says Nimisha Bawa, mother to seven-year-old Shrey. He sports a busy calendar — has worked in Dostana and is currently wrapping up a Punjabi film titled Khushiyan with Tisca Chopra and Kulbhushan Kharbanda. From Ram Gopal Varma’s Phoonk and Shahrukh Khan’s promotional music video Mooli ke paranthe wala, for Kaun Banega Crorepati’s erstwhile season, Shrey has done it all. “There has to be a balance between school and films. It is for this reason that I desist from signing up for serials as I do not want Shrey to miss school.
Shilpi Madan for Deccan Herald