Coming to stardom: Child wonders on screen in 2020

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If you loved Sudhir Mishra’s Serious Men, chances are that you were floored by Aakshath Das’ portrayal of a timid son in it. The same goes for Inayat Verma’s performance as Mini in Anurag Basu’s film Ludo, Varin Roopani playing the characters of young Avinash and J in Mayank Sharma’s Breathe: Into the Shadows, Vedant Desai as young Blackie and Deshna Dugad as young Pooja in Maqbool Khan’s Khaali Peeli, and Pratyaksh Panwar as Adi in Ram Madhvani’s Aarya. These are some of the young actors who impressed the audience with their artistic skills.

They tell us about their experience of making these projects, the appreciation and offers coming their way, and their future plans. Read on:

Aakshath Das

Aakshath Das and Nawazuddin Siddiqui play son and father in Serious Men.

Aakshath Das and Nawazuddin Siddiqui play son and father in Serious Men.

This nine-year-old Malayali actor stole the show with his portrayal of Aadi Mani, a regular school-going kid who’s turned into a manipulated genius by his father (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) in the hope of a better life, in his debut Serious Men. Expressing his gratitude for the appreciation he’s receiving, Das’ innocence comes to the fore when he says, “Every time I performed well, Sudhir sir, Nawazuddin sir would hug me. They liked the way I managed to speak Hindi fluently. I had four Hindi tutors to brush up on my skills. Many from the industry, and my fans too, have called my parents to say they liked my acting.” Das is also a dubbing artist and model. He has worked in Tamil films and commercials. “I want to continue with acting and play a hero in films,” adds the actor, who’s next is a Tamil film starring Regina Cassandra.

Deshna Dugad

Deshna plays the role of  Pooja in Khaali Peeli.

Deshna plays the role of Pooja in Khaali Peeli.

Deshna has done several TV shows, ads and also played the younger version of Fatima Sana Shaikh in Thugs of Hindostan (2018). The Mariyam Khan — Reporting Live actor’s performance as the young girl in a brothel aspiring to lead a happy, rich life in Khaali Peeli touched a chord with viewers. Her performance in Mentalhood season 1 also earned appreciation. “After Khaali Peeli, I’ve a lot more fans. The best was when my follower count increased on Instagram. I was really happy to see people writing nice things in my account that’s managed by my mother,” says the Indore-based actor. Dugad shares that along with Khan, both Ananya Panday and Ishaan Khatter were quite “chilled out”. Flooded with offers right now, Dugad is taking things slow. “I’ve my studies too, so I try and balance both,” says the 12-year-old, whose next projects include two web films and a web series.

Vedant Desai

Vedant Desai portrays the character Blackie in Khaali Peeli.

Vedant Desai portrays the character Blackie in Khaali Peeli.

The 11-year-old’s convincing portrayal of the street-smart young Blackie, who can go to any extent for money, in his debut film Khaali Peeli got him noticed. Desai, who started his acting career with a YouTube show and the popular Marathi TV show Swarajya Janani Jijamata, shares that he has got many “Hindi and Marathi film offers” after Khaali Peeli. “Maqbool sir, Ananya didi, Ishaan bhaiya, Jaideep (Ahlawat) bhaiya would give me suggestions as to how to do things better and also give feedback. They would always praise my work. I’ve learnt a lot from them,” says Desai, who idolises Akshay Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. He plans to continue and is also taking dancing and kickboxing lessons, as he wants to play an action hero on screen. Desai is in talks for a Hindi film.

Pratyaksh Panwar

Pratyaksh Panwar with Sushmita Sen in a still from the web series Aarya.

Pratyaksh Panwar with Sushmita Sen in a still from the web series Aarya.

He has done four TV shows, six web series and 45 ads to begin with. And the project that put the spotlight on him is Aarya. The Meerut-based actor essayed the role of young Adi, who slips into a state of depression and shock after witnessing his father being killed. “Ram sir had told me to be sad and scared, as per the storyline, and I followed his instructions. He always said good things about my acting,” he says, adding that Sushmita Sen would tell him how to react and emote in different ways. “Everyone’s saying nice things about Aarya, my friends and relatives are also happy… I’ve got many fans too. I want to be an action hero when I grow up,” says the actor, who’ll be seen next in Aarya 2 and Jug Jugg Jeeyo, where he plays Varun Dhawan’s younger version.

Varin Roopani

Varin Roopani plays a character suffering from spilt personality disorder in Breathe season 2.

Varin Roopani plays a character suffering from spilt personality disorder in Breathe season 2.

He started facing the camera at the age of seven and has already done short films, TV shows and two web shows, The Final Call and Parchhayee, in 2019. This year the 14-year-old portrayed a character suffering from split personality disorder — the submissive Avinash and the strong, vengeful J — in Breathe 2. He played Abhishek Bachchan’s younger version in the web show. Elated with the response to Breathe 2, Roopani adds, “I underwent training and a workshop to master the part. It was challenging to perform a contradicting personality. Mom says many people are writing on my Facebook and Instagram pages, and saying good things about me. I’ll start working on a web show, but can’t talk about it now.” He dreams of working with Hollywood director Martin Scorsese one day. “I’ve watched his films and love his universe,” he says.

Inayat Verma

Inayat Verma and Abhishek Bachchan in a still from the film Ludo.

Inayat Verma and Abhishek Bachchan in a still from the film Ludo.

“Anurag (Basu, director of Ludo) dada ne kaha tha natural rakhna apni performance, and I tried doing that. He told I’ll become a good actor when I grow up,” says Verma, who’s portrayal of Mini, the character who gets herself kidnapped to get her parents attention, got a lot of adulation from viewers. Happy with the increase in her fan following on Instagram, the eight-year-old adds, “Mumma says I get a lot of likes and good comments. I’ve got many gifts for my performance.” Verma first faced camera at the age of four for Sabse Bada Kalakar. Next she’s doing an anthology film bankrolled by Karan Johar, and Raj Mehta’s web series starring Nushrratt Bharuccha. “I like Shraddha (Kapoor) ma’am and Kajol ma’am, they’re cute, aur bahut masti karte hain. Abhishek (Bachchan) bhaiya ke saath bhi kaam karna hai, he’s funny. And I want to meet Shah Rukh Khan. I’m a huge fan,” says the Ludhiana-based actor.

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Author tweets @Shreya_MJ



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