New DelhI: In Bihar in a town called Begusarai, 13-year-Milan started dreaming young. He loves watching talent hunt shows and though he cannot sing too well, he tries to, like many others. But unlike others, Milan's passion for singing and his dream to make it big made him convince two of his friends aged eight and 10 to run away to Mumbai to take part in a reality talent hunt show. "In Bombay, a man who works with stones helped us. He put us up in a hotel and showed us around. He used our money to move around as well. We saw Shah Rukh's bungalow, Amitabh Bachchan's bungalow and Aishwarya Rai's garment store," the star-struck teenager says. However, it is not just the star shine that attracts Milan. "Had I participated and sung, I would have had a quality apart from studies. People of Begusarai would have been proud of me,” he adds. Luckily Milan returned home safely. In fact, hearing about his little adventure, the producers of popular reality TV show Indian Idol invited him to feature on the show as well. The New Playground Catching them young is Reality TV's new success mantra. Ever since Sa Re Ga Ma Li’l Champs hooked viewers in, talent hunts featuring children have been mushrooming on every channel. Meet six-year-old Anshal Kapur of Kanpur who’s just returned from Delhi after auditioning for yet another children's reality talent show. Believed to be nothing less than a star in the making, this kid has his future worked out by his father. "I want him to become a star. Whatever I could not accomplish I want him to do it," declares Anshal’s father Parveen Kapoor. And Anshal sings the same tune. "I want to be a star," he says. Parveen says he wanted to join the glamour field but due to his family condition his dream could never be materialized, but he has made sure that nothing comes in the way of his son’s career. “When Anshal was 1.5 years old, I put him in a crèche for dancing. When he was 3.5, he participated in Junior Kanpur — he was the youngest kid there," says the proud father. But do the accolades really make Anshal happy? ”Want to become doctor or pilot,” he says. His father says he never pressurises Anshal. "I don't think I pressurise. I lovingly put some pressure,” he says. “In fact,” he adds, “in an interview to HT Anshal said he’s happy because his father is happy." And what if Anshal does not want to get into glamour? “I will not be able to reason with myself but I will try reasoning with him,” his father says. Anshal has his own portfolio and is a regular face at auditions, he wins some and he loses some. But he works hard everyday to get his steps right, just to see his father happy. Next Page: Loss of Innocence PAGE_BREAK Loss of Innocence However, don't be surprised if the young participants of these reality talent hunt shows don't sound all that young. For example, when Sa Re Ga Ma Li’l Champs winner Anamika Chourdhary said, "I love my fans. Thank you so much," it barely sounded like a teenager’s victory speech. And when runner-up Tanmay Chaturvedi precociously said, "Main autograph toh de hi sakta hoon (I can definitely sign autographs)," he sounded more like a high-flying celebrity than a school-going kid. The pressures of waiting to be graded, winning and losing while being watched by millions surely takes its toll on these youngsters. "All you are seeing on TV is that their childhood has been taken away, they have been glorified, they are talking like a star, which they are. Unfortunately with the time, with this era, things have changed completely," admits Director Sai Baba Telefilms Gajendra Singh. So how has the brush with glam-life affected the young minds? "I was even more silly before," chirps Voice of India Chhote Ustad contestant Aishwarya Majumdar. For some the stardom comes with the pressure of being politically correct at all time. "I have to be careful while talking. If I say I like Ranbir Kapoor in this song, the (media) will write Anmesha loves Ranbir Kapoor. It is not like that. I just like him in this song. So I have to be careful while talking,” another contestant from Chhote Ustad Anmesha Dutta says. Fourteen-year-old Aishwarya and 13-year-old Anmesha have already bagged their first playback singing contracts in Bollywood — all this while somewhere trying to hold on to their innocence, despite prying eyes.