A young boy from Scotland has been plucked from obscurity to feature in a major new Indian movie on Netflix.
Mimi is a comedy-drama about a woman who agrees to be a paid surrogate for an American couple, to help fund her pursuit of a Bollywood movie career and Jacob Smith, who was on a family world trip, was spotted in Goa before been casted in a prominent role with Kriti Sanon and Pankaj Tripathi.
Jacob, now five, was three when he had to learn his lines in Hindi for playing the part of Raj, the son of the main character Mimi. His parents said that they were incredibly proud of his role in the film.
Mimi, produced by Maddock Films, is already earning glowing reviews from many movie critics. Kris and Julie Smith and children Erihn and Jacob left Aberdeen in June 2019 to fulfil their dream of travelling around the globe – travelling to countries including India, Jordan, Albania, Serbia and Hungary, before coronavirus lockdown measures came into force in March last year.
It meant they had to spend several months in Nepal - during which, Jacob landed the role, but had managed to keep it quiet until now. They relocated to Mumbai in January 2020, which included taking part in acting coaching, and then went to Rajasthan for filming in the February.
Mr Smith said: "We got talking to them and one thing led to another and that's how Jacob ended up in the movie.
"They had been looking all over India for six months, so we genuinely didn't think they would pick our wee Jacob. They chose him because the director was able to get him to perform on set, which is seriously impressive because he has the attention span of a gnat at times.
"We felt a bit of trepidation whether to put our son into that spotlight. It concerned us to an extent, but once we started speaking to the production company, they managed to ease our concerns."
Jacob's father added: "From the initial conversation, we said we didn't want fame or fortune. We just wanted a great experience for us as a family and in particular Jacob and make sure he's looked after. He was the star of the show".
His wife Julie said: "We got relocated to Mumbai for acting lessons and he learned how to speak Hindi.
"He had around 20 pages of dialogue in Hindi and he was only three-years-old at the time. I don't want people to think he was a child actor. They came to us and it worked in with our trip. He's just a normal kid picked from a nursery.
"He learned the lines, but he's a Scottish boy and in the film he's an Indian boy brought up in Rajasthan, so they couldn't use his actual voice because he doesn't have the dialect.
"They dubbed over his voice in the end, but if you watch the film his lips work really well with the lines. Everyone in India would know that he was Scottish with his north-east Hindi twang."
They went from a really easy Goa life to a very busy schedule, she said. "We're beyond proud,” she added. “Everyone is buzzing. My mum has watched it a couple of times and cried. There's been lovely feedback. It's like, wow, that's our boy. We're so happy.
Mr Smith added: "It was a big secret - 19 months is a long time to keep a secret".