Baby’s Day Out

A visit to the sets of India's Best Dramebaaz gives an insight into the children's dreams of glamour and reveals that all innocence is not lost.

The act opens with a scene from the Ramayana. As Ram is leaving home with Sita and Lakshman, Kaushalya calls out: "Yeh ghorr anyay se ek maa ki mamta ka vadh kar diya (This is grave injustice to a mother)". The audience that has been watching rapt, breaks into sudden laughter watching a five-year-old utter these heavy words in her feeble voice.

All of two feet, Ishita Rajhans from Jaisalmer plays the role of Kaushalya as part of a group act at the auditions of Zee's latest reality show in Mumbai. A platform for children between the ages of five and 12, India's Best Dramebaaz aims to "encourage acting talent at an early stage". The weekend reality show goes on air on February 23. From lakhs of hopefuls across 15 cities, 16 participants will be selected over five levels of auditions. The finalists will then compete for the top prize while actors Sonali Bendre and Vivek Oberoi with director Anurag Basu judge their acts.

Even at 8 pm, children from various age groups are at the venue, some practising their acts, others playing. Although chaperoned by their parents, the little ones don't seem to require watching over as they give interviews and pose for photos. The scene gives a glimpse into the aspirations of children and the opportunities available to them.

Inesh Singh Pahwa, 6, like other auditioners, is dressed in a white kurta and blue denims. What sets apart the Delhi boy is a light blue pagdi and his energetic performance for the camera. He quickly changes poses — from performing thumkas to dancing to Sheila Ki Jawaani before concluding it with Salman Khan's dance step from Dabangg. "He calls himself Little Salman," says his father Sonu. Since Inesh scores well at school, the family nurtures his talent by letting him participate in talent competitions at his school and local malls.

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