How many of us remember Ankita Jhaveri, the original ‘Rasna girl’ today? She had created waves ages ago. Her instant fame had paved the way for children, especially girls, to feature in a plethora of TV ads as well as fiction and reality shows. Suddenly they were all over the small screen, canvassing for chocolates, health drinks, packaged foods, detergents and even cars, and doing a great job too. Children are natural performers. Their uncluttered mindscape is able to soak in the nuances of a performing art – be it acting, singing or dancing – far more easily than adults. There are numerous instances of child actors captivating the audiences, thanks to their uninhibited natural renderings.
As child Krishna in Jai Shri Krishna (Colors), Dhriti Bhatia had won the audience’s hearts. Now she has gone on to enchant her fans on Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon (Star Plus). Ashnoor Kaur impressed as Prachi in Jhansi Ki Rani (Zee TV). She gave further proof of her talent as Nanhi in Na Bole Tum, Na Maine Kuchh Kaha (Zee) and as child Shobha in Shobha Somnath Ki (Colors). Talking of talent, Peehu, whose real name is Amrita Mukherji, has taken the small screen by storm with her performance in Bade Achche Lagte Hain (Sony). Avika Gaur, of Balika Vadhu fame, has done one better. She now features in love triangles as a grown up woman; and displays her histrionic range in assorted soaps. And, who can forget the sensational child stand-up comedian Saloni aka Gangubai? Even the most seasoned judges were swept off their feet by her comic performances. She is indeed a rare talent that can act naturally and deliver most powerful punch lines with unbelievable ease. Among boys, too, there are numerous gifted child actors, who have carved out a niche for themselves in the world of TV entertainment. Shivansh Kotia, who had caught our attention in Balika Vadhu, is now attracting eyeballs in Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai (Star Plus), among other shows. Similarly, Sadhil Kapoor, who plays Ganesha, in Devon Kay Dev Mahadev (Life OK), is immensely talented.
Although reality shows like Chhote Miyan in the past had presented a platform for exceptional child comedians, and Sa Re Ga Ma Little Champs provided exposure to aspiring child singers, the current Indian Idol Junior is different in several ways. First, during the trials, judges did not criticize children. In fact, the unsuccessful children were given toys as gifts and treated affectionately. In the main competition, judges focus more on positives and indicate where improvements are required. More importantly, the talent on display is of much higher level than ever before. Imagine an eight year old Sugandha from Nagpur rendering a ghazal and negotiating its nuances with self-confidence, or 9 year old Sonakshi from Kolkata, 14 year old Priyam from Sivasagar Assam, 15 year old Eman from Guwahati, 14 year old Debanjana from Midnapore and 10 year old Anjana from Bangalore, rendering classical, light classical and other genres with professional aplomb, although Hindi is not their mother tongue! In fact, Anjana is distinctly uncomfortable while conversing in Hindi and lapses into Tamil, but onstage her diction is perfect and so is her rendering of some of the most complex compositions. Among boys too, the flair displayed by the 14 year old Anmol from Jammu, 13 year old Akash from Haryana’s Kanina Khas, 12 year old Sankalp from Moradabad, and 14 year old Nirvesh from Ahmadabad, keeps everybody enraptured. Sadly, Meghna Kumar, a talented visually challenged girl from Jhansi, made her exit rather early. But she has the potential to make a strong comeback as a professional singer. One would not be surprised if some of these children step into the shoes of the current adult singing icons as stars in their own right, sooner than later.
Published in The Financial World dated 15 July 2013