You’ve won a National Award in your debut film!
Yeah, I was shocked. I said, “Man, this is some achievement.” Even my family and friends were shocked. The guys in my school said, “Shams from class 9!” And you know something, I’ve never acted before on stage or in a film. I was interested in football but the director Irfan convinced me to come for the auditions and give it a shot. I was nervous. The other kids were so good. But slowly, I became confident.
Tell us about your character in Thanks Maa.
He’s a street kid called Municipality Ghatkopar. A young girl leaves her two-day-old baby on the steps of a reformatory. I save him and try to find his mother.
Do you find him?
I do, at the end of the film, but she doesn’t want him.
How was the experience of working with a two-day-old baby?
I spent a lot of time with him. It was a good experience except when he cried and peed (laughs). He even puked once. But his mother was always around.
Weren’t you scared to hold such a tiny kid?
He was a 20-day-old one, not two-day-old. But it was fun.
Do you like kids?
Yes. I have two young cousins, one is three and the other is four. I get along well with them. I have two sisters but they are older than me.
How did you connect with the other street kids you worked with?
It didn’t feel as if they were real slum kids. We attended a two-month workshop where we spent about four hours together. Each one of us was addressed by our screen names, not our real names. So we related to each other as our screen characters. I had fun with them. We used to play cards and have a good time.
Which was the most difficult scene?
When I had to carry the kid around. I had to carry him throughout the film.
Any scene you enjoyed shooting?
(Laughs) All the kids help me to find the kid’s mother. So, all the kids swoop on Sanjay Mishra, a taxi driver, and demand the woman’s whereabouts from him. When he refuses, they strip him and have a good laugh.
What are your future plans?
I will take up good offers that come my way. I think I want to become an actor when I grow up.