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Playing the young Pi

chandigarh Updated: Nov 22, 2012 10:40 IST
Swati Goel Sharma
Swati Goel Sharma
Hindustan Times
Ayush Tandon

Young Ayush Tandon, who will be seen in a pivotal role in the upcoming film, Life of Pi, is a huge fan of rapper Honey Singh. This Mumbai resident, aged 14, is a regular visitor to the state, given a close family connection, and says he hopes to meet his favourite Punjabi music icon soon.

“I completely love his songs,” exclaims this child actor, who has taken the leap from Bollywood to Hollywood with this mega screen adaptation of the Man Booker Prize winning novel by the same name. A well-familiar face in commercials, Ayush debuted in cinema with Vishal Bhardwaj’s 7 Khoon Maaf. Directed by Academy Award winning director Ang Lee, this upcoming film features Ayush in the protagonist’s role; he portrays one of the three stages of Pi Patel’s life, around whom the film revolves.

Ayush’s father Hatinder Tandon, who has also been an actor with TV for more than a decade, hails from Samrala. As a struggling actor, Hatinder involved himself with theatre in Ludhiana as a member of Punjab Kala Manch. The family continues to own a house in the city, and makes frequent visits here. These are the trips that Ayush loves. “The food, the long green stretches on the outskirts and, of course, the music, I love them all,” he says.

This fair-skinned boy with chocolate looks underwent tough auditions before he was selected to play Pi, a Gujarati who grows up in Pondicherry. “Pi looks completely different than me. He is not fair, has a thick curly mane, as opposed to my straight hair, and has black eyes unlike my brown ones.

Every day on the shoot, it would take the make-up artists more than five hours to transform me into Pi, as they painted my skin brown, fixed curly patches of hair around my face and put eye lenses,” recalls Ayush. “But I loved every bit of it,” adds this Class-9 student of Mumbai’s St Augustine High School. The film is slated for a worldwide theatrical release on November 23, and following its premiere in New York recently, is expected to be in the race for the Oscars in 2013.

Ayush also fondly recalls time spent with veteran actors Irrfan Khan and Tabu. And Ang Lee? “I didn’t know about him, though I am a fan of Hulk and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But now I do, and feel blessed for this opportunity to work him with,” says he.