At least one child protegee has been spared the trauma of underage overexposure. Tanay Chheda, who plays the protagonist Jamal's childhood avatar in Slumdog Millionaire, has had his share of fame and recognition, at least for now. He wants to concentrate on his studies and focus on just that one film.
"And that's Karan Johar's My Name Is Khan. I play the childhood portions of Shah Rukh Khan's role. It's a small role and a very important film. And it will be shot during my holidays. Except for My Name Is Khan, my parents have decided to let me concentrate on my studies."
Tanay is shifting from his current school Campion in Colaba to the Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Bandra and is geared up for a new life in a new school. He completely dismisses stories of replacing Darsheel Safary in Anil Monga's film Padduram. "I don't know where that came from. I haven't said yes to any such film," protests Tanay.
Tanay who played Darsheel Safari's best friend in Taare Zameen Par got the role of the younger Jamal in Slumdog Millionaire by chance. "I couldn't go to the auditions. But, eight months later, they came to my school for auditions. Luckily by chance, I got the role. They had to work a lot on my physical appearance to make me look compatible with Ayush who played the youngest Jamal. They straightened my curly hair, etc. Also, they had to darken all of us three who played Jamal (Ayush, Tanay and Dev Patel) to look like we were constantly exposed to the sun. My makeup used to take 90 minutes every day."
And he will now be playing the role of junior Shah Rukh Khan in Karan Johar's My Name Is Khan, a decision that Karan took after watching Slumdog Millionaire, says the 12-year son of a business family whose life has transformed almost overnight.
"My family and friends are very proud of me. It feels really good. For my friends I'm still the same Tanay. I'm a movie freak. When I walked the red carpet, I could recognize everyone who walked by," he says.
Tanay has to sit for his elocution exams at Trinity College in London. "But coping with the studies is no problem. All my teachers have been very co-operative. Half of Slumdog Millionaire was shot during my vacations."
Surprisingly, Tanay says acting is a hobby. "Right now, I just want to enjoy my childhood. I'm passionate about football. And I love to write. I've lots of stories to tell. As far as movies are concerned, my next release is Mastang Mama, where Ruslaan Mumtaz and I play mama-bhanja. I know that another Slumdog may not happen. But like my dialogue in film goes, it's all about destiny."
Tanay misses the Slumdog team. "But we keep meeting for premieres and awards function. And we all keep in touch through the email. We were all one big family."