Real-life victim of domestic abuse plays abused child in ‘Gali Guleiyan’

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Mumbai, Sep 6 (IANS) Dipesh Jains “Gali Guleiyan”, which releases on Friday, features the adolescent non-actor Om Singh as a victim of child abuse. Significantly, Om suffered domestic violence of the most brutal kind at the hands of his real-life father and brother until he could take it no more.

“Om ran away from home to escape the violence,” revealed the Los Angeles-based young director Jain.

“I auditioned close to 2,000 kids. We had a big casting team recruited to find the child actor. Finally, we found Om at the Salaam Balak Trust in Delhi. Om is a real-life victim of child abuse who ran away from home, just like the character Idris that Om plays,” Jain said.

It took a while for the child to open up.

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“I got goosebumps when he told me his story. Initially, he was very shy and refused to talk. To make him comfortable, I spent two months during pre-production with him. We hung out together, had lunches, built a relationship of trust. Then he slowly started opening up and telling his story. And I began moulding my screenplay to fit his reality,” Jain recounted.

The filmmaker would consult the boy to ensure Om’s reality matched with the situation of the character he played.

“Om would tell me whether it was right or not. He’s a brilliant kid with such a high emotional quotient. After shooting, he acquired great self-confidence. He’s a total rockstar.”

Jain has taken charge of Om’s future.

“He’s working hard. My family has offered to look after him and pay for his education. Right now he just wants to do theatre. If he’s good, he will become an actor in future. He is also studying hard. He is slowly healing and getting over his past wounds. He had difficulty remembering things. But now he is in good health.”

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The target is to give Om the education he never had.

“The Salaam Balak Trust is associated with Lawrence School, Sanawar. I’ve advised Om to study hard and get into Sanawar. We are there to support him in every way possible.”

Let’s hope Om Singh has a future beyond the fame of his celluloid outing. Otherwise, who remembers those wonder-kids from Mira Nair’s “Salaam Bombay” and Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire”? And what happened to the amazing little Sunny Pawar who just a year ago was the toast of Hollywood after he stole the show from Dev Patel in “Lion”?

–IANS

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