Working early has given my son exposure

—Vijaya Lakshmi, mother

Akshay Batchu

Child artiste, Mumbai

Workaholic: Akshay Batchu, 12, will work on two films during his summer break. Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

He will be acting in two films in the summer holidays this year, one Hindi and the other Telugu. In the last eight years, Akshay has acted in six films, including the Salman Khan-starrer Wanted, a few serials and around 30 advertisements. His mother has saved about Rs10 lakh from his earnings.

Lakshmi, who works in a life insurance company, feels that the outcome of her son’s exposure to the film industry has been positive. The pros include his transformation from a shy boy to a confident tween. “He is self-assured specially with all the veterans he interacts with. Another positive is that films often require him to travel to foreign locations, giving him a chance to see places he otherwise wouldn’t have been able to," she says.

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Akshay has maintained good grades according to Lakshmi but is finding it increasingly difficult to cope up. Each shooting schedule lasts for 10 days and each film requires two-three schedules. He ends up skipping classes often. “This is the reason why I don’t allow him to act in serials because that will require him to be on the sets everyday."

One thing Lakshmi does not let her son do is miss an exam. Akshay was selected to play Gayatri Joshi’s brother in Swades. But the shooting schedule required him to miss his final exams. Lakshmi immediately said no—a decision that Akshay is still angry about. Akshay has to regularly deal with disappointment when he does not bag a role. But Lakshmi thinks that is a good thing: “He will have to deal with disappointments in life even when he grows up. It is best that he understands from now on itself how to move ahead when he does not get what he wants."

Blessy Augustine


I am not sure if she should continue this

—Vimmi Ghai, mother

Tanya Ghai,

Dance instructor, New Delhi

Twinkle toes: Tanya Ghai (centre. middle row), 11, gives dance lessons. Priyanka Parashar/Mint

Two things Vimmi is sure about: Tanya will not perform at malls or participate in TV shows. “She is much too young for that and though she does not like this ban, we have made it clear that we will not compromise on this aspect." And the Rs350 Tanya earns per class goes into her bank account and is not to be used as extra pocket money. “Sure, she earns, but she has to manage in the pocket money she gets from us and not use what she earns."

Seema Chowdhry


We don’t want him to work again for a few years

—Shylaja Shrikanth, mother

Kishan Shrikanth

Director and actor, Bangalore

Kishan Shrikanth has been mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the youngest director of a film at the age of nine. The film titled C/O Footpath, a movie on street children ran a full house for 100 days in Bangalore in 2006 and both the young director and his parents were hounded by the local media after its release. “We were asked just one question every time. Has Kishan lost his childhood?" says his father Shrikanth who is now amused by how hassled he used to be when grilled by the press.

Movie-maker: Kishan Shrikanth directed a film when he was 9. Hemant Mishra/Mint

The burden of his stardom and long work hours made Shylaja uncomfortable when it lasted. “My husband had to quit his job as a tax officer; I had to accompany him (Kishan) wherever he went and we had to make sure that Kiran, our daughter was doing fine too," says Shylaja as she mentions that she had to even keep in touch with a friend who was a child psychologist to understand how best to cope with situations of pressure.

Kishan, 14, is now all set to cram for his class 10 boards next year and at present says he may direct another film on adventure sports after the board exams by which time he will be about 17.

Pavitra Jayaraman