Zaira Wasim doesn't get carried away with attention: Advait Chandan

Working with children is not an easy job, and it becomes an even bigger challenge when it also happens to be your directorial debut. Advait Chandan, however, managed to do to that and how! His movie Secret Superstar has been loved by the audience and critics alike. He worked with Zaira Wasim, who played Insiya and Tirth Sharma and Kabir Sajid, who played Chintan and Guddu, respectively. Advait doesn’t think that it’s a stressful job to work with kids. He says, “The children brought in a great energy to the crew. There’s a schedule, you are losing light, you have to finish a certain number of shots, but the minute there’s a child on sets, everyone becomes happy.”


The film revolved around Zaira’s relationship with her mother, who is a victim of domestic violence. The two had a friendly equation when it came to working on the sets. “I have literally watched her grow in front of me. At this age, she has grown so fast from how she was in Dangal. She is so confident, so skilled. I feel really proud to see her go through this journey. She is an amazing person to work with,” he says. Not just as a person, but as an artiste too, Advait only has praise for Zaira. “She is very involved in her craft. She isn’t someone who will get carried away with all the attention that she gets”


The one thing that every director who has worked with kids talks about is dealing with days when their actors aren’t in a mood to work. Advait, however, feels that it’s not just kids who have difficult days. “Even I have my share of good days and bad days. It happens to everyone. The main thing is that you have to treat them like an equal. If someone is having a bad day, you have to respect that and ask them whether they want to or don’t want to do a certain scene.” It’s only natural for a child actor to get nervous about difficult scenes. So how does a director deal with that? “I remember, Zaira was very nervous to do the scene where she has a breakdown on the terrace. I told her that I too am feeling very nervous. It was genuine. I really was nervous because it was a tricky scene to shoot. We supported each other because we were both having a scary day.”


The director admits that they were careful about certain things. “We were careful about things like how we behave and talk. Things like raising our voice. So, that it becomes a happy environment to work around them. At times, we were shooting in a school, so there were these two (Zaira and Chintan) and other 14-year-olds, too. So, we always were in that kind of an environment where we had to keep it right for the kids.”

Having worked on Taare Zameen Par, that was directed by Aamir Khan, probably helped Advait a lot. “I remembered how careful Aamir sir was with all those kids. He was very gentle with all the kids who worked in the film. I think that was the quality that I tried to bring to the sets on this project too.”