It's safe to say Aaradhya Bachchan is the most famous seven month old in India. Born on November 16, 2011, Aaradhya's name was a well kept secret by parents Aishwarya and Abhishek and the rest of the Bachchan clan. That didn't stop the press, us included, from dedicating column inches and generating reams of headlines about her. We dubbed the littlest Bachchan, Beti B.
The tiny mite was shielded fiercely from the cameras that inevitably follow in her mother's wake. There was no photo-op when Aishwarya left Seven Hills Hospital to take her new born baby home. There were certainly no pictures released for public consumption, and only a select handful were allowed to meet the new addition to the family. Chief among them were American chat show queen Oprah Winfrey, who was one of the earliest visitors to the Bachchan household after Aaradhya's birth, and Shah Rukh Khan.
Very few details about the new baby were made known to us. We didn't know what her name was till just two months ago when grandfather Amitabh Bachchan confirmed it was Aaradhya on Twitter. We had no idea what she looked like till even more recently when a London resident bumped into Ash and baby, who were holidaying in the city, and revealed that the little miss had brown eyes, like papa.
Despite the Bachchans' golden silence, or perhaps because of it, it seems like we can't get enough of Aaradhya. Pictures of Ash carrying her then six month old daughter through Nice airport on her way to Cannes were devoured greedily online, as were subsequent photos of Ash and Aaradhya navigating Mumbai airport on their return. That not an inch of the baby's face was visible in the photos didn't seem to matter at all.
In Hollywood, celebrities take extreme public interest in their offspring for granted, and in their stride. Some, like Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lopez, sell the first photos of their children to tabloids for huge sums - though, admittedly, Angelina and her partner Brad Pitt donated every penny they received from pictures of daughter Shiloh and twins Knox and Vivienne to charity. Other celebrities, like Jessica Alba and Jennifer Garner, make no attempt to hide their little ones away from cameras, toting them around quite happily wherever they go.
And six year old Suri Cruise, daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, is possibly the most photographed and written about child in the world. Dressed in mini-couture by her mother, there are entire websites and blogs, as well as endless tabloid features, dedicated to Suri's designer wardrobe and to scrutinizing her every move.
Is public interest in Aaradhya Bachchan veering towards obsession, Suri style? It's early days yet, but certainly there's no similar curiosity about Shilpa Shetty's one month old son Viaan or Lara Dutta's five month old daughter Saira. And while it stands to reason that the world's most beautiful woman should expect some extreme prying, we can't think of another A-lister whose children have been put under the scanner in the same manner - not even Shah Rukh Khan, the superstar's superstar.
And what of Aaradhya's parents? They seem resigned to the fame that has been thrust upon their little daughter. Aishwarya was armed with a variety of implements with which to shield her baby's face from cameras at Nice airport. These included a red stole and a folder. Abhishek is circumspect. "Right now Aaradhya is the focus of everybody's attention. Everybody is fascinated with her. She is little and innocent and everybody wants to be with her, everyone wants to spend time with her," he says.