He lives in a plush home in Mumbai's posh locality Altamount Road, and goes to the well-reputed South Mumbai school, Campion. Yet, 12-year-old Tanay Chheda jumped right into the skin of slum child Jamal Malik in Danny Boyle's Oscar-nominated Slumdog Millionaire, and made him come alive.
So how did he manage it? "I imagine myself in that situation and then my directors help me get the feel of the character," Tanay explains. "There were many slum kids at the Slumdog shoot. I would watch them and see how they behaved, then imitate them."
Tanay changes gear and then says excitedly, "I am really excited about going to the Oscars. It is a once-a-life-time opportunity. I'm making a list on whose autographs to take and whom I should meet. I want to meet Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Tom Cruise!"
Unlike the rest of the child artistes in Slumdog, Tanay has done movies before. He was earlier seen in Farhan Akhtar's Don, and then later in Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par.
"My mother enrolled me in a theatre workshop with Raell Padamsee when I was four years old. I have done many ads like Child Relief and You, Navratna oil, Apsara Pencil... I was in regular touch with Raell, and did some English theatre as well. She always tells my mother is something comes up for me. One day I auditioned for Don and they liked me. That's how I got my first film."
In the video: Tanay acts out a scene from Slumdog Millionaire
Text: Patcy N | Video, Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani
Also See: Showcasing Slumdog Millionaire