Lately several child artists have been sparkling on television and it’s delightful to see these young stars make a mark with their stellar performances at such an early age.
Children mostly have a supporting but significant role to play when it comes to making an Urdu TV drama successful, wholesome and gripping. Every striking performance, big or small, deserves recognition, but all the more so when it’s a child artist making his or her presence felt on screen. These young actors are all minors, pre-teens to be exact, and some are as young as primary school-goers. They have managed to juggle their education along with demanding shoot schedules to enter the alluring world of showbiz. Most of them have no background in acting but have still managed to deliver memorable characters. Here’s a glance at some of these incredibly young artists and their journey thus far:
Abdul Muqeet, 7
After making his debut in Aik Aur Sitam Hai, at the tender age of five, followed by Khasara and Bewafa, Abdul Muqeet - who is now seven - was recently seen as Shehroze in Mohabbatein Chahatein, which recently ended. Muqeet played a central and pivotal role in the play; he was portrayed as a minor who has to undergo immense duress during the separation of his parents. Muqeet is well-known for his million dollar smile, which can melt anyone’s heart. His elder brother, Abdul Rehman is also a young child actor and both featured as reel brothers in the drama serial Khasara, which was written by Maha Malik and directed by Sahid Shafaat.
Syeda Hurain Moin, 11
Hurain certainly made us tear up with her riveting performance as the child bride in Mushk. Her naivete and innocence in sensitive scenes gripped us and left us seething with discomfort as we absorbed the horrific reality of child marriages in our country, which is till date a widespread and rampant issue, not just in Pakistan but all over South Asia. With over 17 serials to her credit, she completely stole the show in the horror drama serial Bandish and she will next be seen in the comedy horror film Lafangey.
Abdul Samad (Sami) Khan, 12
If there’s anyone who has arresting audiences with his range and diversity it’s young Sami Khan who reappeared in Mushk after a sabbatical from his immensely popular comic role of a young family sleuth in Suno Chanda (Season I & II). As ‘Munna’, Sami has a different hairstyle, a completely different tone, a distinguishable rural attire and he’s even introduced a nuanced facial characteristic with the flickering of his eyes that only won our hearts some more.
Shees Sajjad Gul, 11
Anyone who’s watched Merey Paas Tum Ho, the hit drama serial of 2019, will definitely remember Roomi, the tiny tot who told his father that “Roomi is not your weakness, Roomi is your strength” and single handedly took his dad’s marriage proposal to his primary school teacher. Gul is a budding young YouTuber and has his own channel by the name of ‘Shees Sajjad Gul’ through which he creates videos on a variety of different topics and has already garnered a whopping 138K subscribers. Gul has no formal training in acting and was surprised by his father on set when he learned that he had been brought there to act and perform impromptu. He more recently featured in Rung Do Rangi, a telefilm written by Saqib Sameer and directed by Yasir Akhter, in a similar role as a son to a single father.
Yashraj Vaswani, 10
Also winning hearts with his smart and cheeky one liners and brotherly affection is Yashraj Vaswani, who made an adorable debut as Bilal or Billu in Ramazan drama Taana Baana. Often the one to make the most sense in the joint family comic saga, and also the first to make amends between bickering family members, Yashraj has impressed viewers with his spirited and witty character Billu. Yashraj is a fourth grader and has no prior connections to showbiz. Taana Baana was his first project for television and he was recently also seen in an ad-campaign with Iqra Aziz and Ahmed Ali Butt. We hope to see more of him on screen in diverse roles.
Pehlaaj Hassan, 9
Pehlaj Hassan played the immensely poignant and impactful role of Chota Momin in Alif. Even though this was his debut project, Pehlaaj was a third grader when he began shooting and had no idea that he had to act until two days before he landed on set. A young YouTuber with his own channel, which has already acquired close to 50K followers, this talented young boy has quite the penchant for v-logging which he uses to discuss cricket matches and review new toys. With no former training in the art form, Hassan says the only experience he has which was relatively close to acting is when he had to fake reasons in order to skip school. Though Hassan does not want to pursue a solid career in acting, he maintains that he had a lot of fun shooting for Alif which was shot between Turkey and different provinces of Pakistan.
Emaan Ahmed, 6
The very young Emaan has featured in dramas like Tarap, Mujhe Beta Chahiye, Ek Aur Munafiq, Pakeeza Phuppo, Roothi Roothi Zindagi and Saas Bahu but she has really captivated audiences with her performance as the innocently endearing Ghana in the currently airing drama serial Dunk. As the traumatized six year old whose father gets falsely accused of harassment and commits suicide, Eman has sensitively portrayed several complex emotions like shock, grief, hurt, denial and oblivion. Also a regular part of advertising campaigns, Emaan has truly shown her versatility for the small screen with her recent performances. She’s also currently on air in drama serial Pardes, as an adorable child who’s troubled as her adoring father has to leave for employment opportunities to the Middle East.
Verdict: While it’s important to laud the performances of these budding young actors, it is also important for makers, producers and channels to recognize the talent and the contribution that these youngsters make to their drama serials. It is unfortunate that often these child artists have their names missing from the central leading cast lists, posters and promotions. Their names are either incomplete or get lost amidst the drama’s adult ensemble cast. Additionally, the character (reel) names are not mentioned alongside the actors’ real names in the credits or promotions, which makes it incredibly difficult for viewers and audiences to make a connection between the artist, especially young and new artists, and their respective characters. We hope that these young artists get all the credit and recognition that they deserve.
– Afreen is a creative writer and a Digital Media professional with special interests in Film, TV and pop culture. She can be reached at [email protected]