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Dipesh Jain on child actor Om Singh: I found a real-life Idris

The first-time director revealed that the newcomer’s life experiences were woven into the script of Gali Guleiyan (2018).

Sonal Pandya

After travelling the world attending international film festivals and winning numerous awards, writer-director Dipesh Jain's first film Gali Guleiyan is being released in India on 7 September.

The film stars Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, Neeraj Kabi, Shahana Goswami and child actor Om Singh as Idris.

Director Jain said Om Singh was a chance discovery and there were many moments when reel life imitated real life.

Around 2,500 boys were auditioned for the role of Idris and Om Singh was eventually cast after Jain visited the Salaam Baalak Trust, a non-profit organization that assists poor children and teenagers. Om Singh had landed up in the trust's care after becoming a victim of child abuse.

Jain worked with Om Singh to learn about his life and weave his experiences into Gali Guleiyan. The director said, “Meeting Om, I was shocked to learn that he had been a victim of child violence and had run away from home to escape this terrible experience. I had found a real-life Idris. I began working with Om immediately and had multiple discussions and interactions with him to find out how he would react to a certain incident from my script, and incorporated these. Interacting with Om helped in adding realism to the film.”

One such experience hit really close to home as the film was shot at the same railway station where young Om spent nights after running away from home.

"Om had ended up at a specific platform when he escaped to Delhi," said Dipesh Jain. "He would wait at a spot and watch people passing by, not knowing what to do. In fact, we shot at the same spot on the same platform. Om’s performance is lined with his real experiences. The whole journey of him playing Idris was a surreal experience for me."

Gali Guleiyan picked up two awards, Best Actor for Manoj Bajpayee and Special Mention for Best Indie Film, at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne on 12 August.