'I was nervous about this film'

CHILD ARTIST

'I was nervous about this film'

Ask him a question and he replies in one liners, sans explanation of how he is feeling and definitely without betraying any excitement.

He is holding back because he is nervous. Yet, despite being surrounded by unknown faces; people constantly throwing questions at him and asking him to pose differently, 10-year old Virendra Singh Rathore tries to hold onto his confidence. After all, the winner of the National Award for the Best Child Artist for his role in Dekh Indian Circus (DIC), cannot afford to be anything but confident.

Probably a result of having gone through his share of ragging by friends, for the film was little known. “My school friends used to tease me when the shooting of the film was completed two years ago and there was no mention about it on television. They used to make fun of me and say ‘Teri film ka kya hua? Woh aayegi bhi ki nahin?” says Virendra in Hindi with a Rajasthani accent. Today, he is happy that this teasing will now stop.

As the film gets more recognition at international film festivals like 12th New York Indian Film Festival; 16th Busan International Film festival and has also received the National Award for the Best Children’s film, Virendra and his entire family are the cynosure of all eyes in their village Ludravapur, Jaisalmer. How has this recognition changed his life? “People are giving importance to us now.  But I know they are doing this simply because I have won the award.”

Yet, this first-of-its-kind experience for the worldly-wise child has not taken away his innocence and he is still to come to terms with the manner in which he was
sel­­e­cted. He had never thought a simple poetry recitation could have brought him so many accolades. “They asked me recite poetry. A few days later they took me and my friend out for a picnic and asked us to perform. It was here that they selected me for the film,” says Virendra.

But it would not have been possible for the boy to act in front of the cameras if Mangesh Hadawale, DIC’s director had not worked with him before the shooting started. Shares Virendra, “Mangesh bhaiya taught me everything. Earlier, I was nervous about doing the film but bhaiya used to take me on bicycle rides and trained me.”

While the youngster gives all the credit to Mangesh bhaiya, Mangesh bhaiya attributes the success of the film to Virendra. According to Mangesh, it was the spark in Virendra’s eyes and passion in his voice that made the film worthy of a National Award.

Before the film went on the floors, Virendra was given four months training to shed off the inhibitions when in front of the cameras. Nobody ever thought that the workshop could bring out the best in the little boy and make him the recipient of the most reputed award of the country.

Virendra’s first brush with fame has not turned his head yet. “I will act but first I will complete my studies,” he says with a smile. But the young actor knows the kind of films he wants to do in future. “I will never do lengthy films. I will do only short films!”  Well, that’s one smart little fella!

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