Jan 22 2016

The Peter Pan List: Kids who grew up on screen 

by   Shriram Iyengar

The careers of child actors in Indian cinema can be shortlived. But there are a few who have outlived their childhood and grown up on screen for Bollywood fans to remember. Here's a list. 

1 Master Raju 

The adorable kid from 'Parichay' or the imp in 'Kusum', Raju Shreshtha was the evergreen Peter Pan for Indian cinema in the 70s. His composure, cherubic face and presence reaped him awards galore. He continued to act sporadically in films as he grew up, notably in the Anil Kapoor starrer 'Woh 7 Din'. But adulthood was not kind to him and his career soon petered out. He continues to act in television serials and smaller films.

2 Daisy Irani 

Daisy Irani was among one of the most popular names of the 50s generation. As the innocent child in Raj Kapoor's 'Jaagte Raho', or the hopeful angel in 'Naya Daur', Daisy Irani was the apple of everyone's eye. Age failed to dull her naughty sheen as she continued to charm audiences on television, popularly in 'Dekh Bhai Dekh'. Her appearance as Boman Irani's feisty mother in 'Shireen aur Farhad Ki to Nikal Padi' brought back memories for the old timers.

3 Nalini Jaywant

Dilip Kumar called her the finest actor of her generation. Cinematographers called her the most beautiful face that ever faced the camera. Since arriving on screen as an intelligent 15 year old in Bahen(1941), Nalini Jaywant blazed through the film world. Anokha Pyar, Samadhi, Sangram, Shikast and Kala Pani proved her growing strength as an actress. Sadly, her decline was just as swift. Forgotten, this tinseltown queen died a lonely death in her Chembur apartment flat. 

4 Nanda

She first appeared on screen as 'Baby Nanda' in films like 'Mandir', 'Jagriti', 'Jaggu' and 'Angaarey'. She found her big break in V Shantaram's 'Toofan aur Diya', following it up with a Filmfare winning performance in 'Bhabhi'. The story goes that when a novice Shashi Kapoor was struggling to find a heroine willing to act opposite him, Nanda agreed to do it. The pair would go on to deliver the hit'Jab Jab Phool Khile'.   

5 Kamal Hassan  

In 1981's Ek Duuje Ke Liye, the tragic tale of Vasu and Sapna caught the attention of Bollywood. It was then that Hindi cinema woke up to an actor who was already a star down south. In his 30s, Kamal Hassan had already spent 20 years in cinema. His journey began as a child artist in 'Kalathur Kannamma' in 1959. Hassan would go on to become one of Indian cinema's most bankable and recognised actors.

6 Shashi Kapoor 

Being born in the first family of Indian cinema, you cannot help but be bitten by the cinema bug. Shashi Kapoor was acting before he knew what the word meant. His roles as a child in Sangram(1950), Dana Pani(1953) were the beginning of a long career. He made his debut with Yash Chopra's 'Dharmputra'. It took him 11 long years of struggle before he found a niche for himself in the industry. In an age of superstars, Shashi Kapoor brought a dignity to the world of theatre.  

7 Imran Khan 

Like uncle like nephew. Imran Khan played a young Aamir Khan in the 1992 cult classic 'Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar'. The actor's courage for exposure was evident at a very young age. In one scene, the  adorable imp has his shorts pulled down leaving audiences with a complete view of his rear visage. So much for Ranbir baring it on his debut!

8 Aamir Khan 

The uncle-nephew bond in this Khan family runs deep. Aamir made his debut as a child actor in uncle Nasir Khan's “Yaadon Ki Baraat'. It lasted for all of 20 minutes, but his adorable face was forever imprinted in the minds of film audiences. The charm was renewed with his debut as the chocolate lover boy in Nasir Hussain's 'Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak'. 

9 Kunal Khemu

As a child actor, Khemu made his debut in Mahesh Bhatt's 'Sir'. He would go on to eke out a career playing child roles in films like 'Hum Hain Raahi Pyaar Ke', 'Raja Hindustani' and Zakhm' before graduating to play the leading man. His debut as the leading man came in another Mahesh Bhatt production, Kalyug. It was a hit and Kunal has worked in films like Golmaal, Traffic Signal and Go Goa Gone.

10 Urmila Matondkar

The most famous child actress of her time, Urmila Matondkar actually made her debut as a little boy in the Shashi Kapoor starrer 'Kalyug'. It was only in Shekhar Kapur's 'Masoom' that she was noticed. Her performance as the eldest child of a family about to be divided by another child, was praiseworthy. She graduated into heroine roles with 'Chamatkar'. But it wasn't till Rangeela that critics and audiences awoke to the magic of Urmila Matondkar. 

11 Hansika Motwani

Starting out as a child actress in Hrithik Roshan's Koi Mil Gaya, Hansika stepped back into the gruelling world of daily soaps. Soon, she was receiving offers from the Southern film industry, winning the Filmfare award for Best Debut – South in Desamudru. She made her Bollywood debut opposite Himesh Reshammiya in Aap Ka Surroor. 'Nuf said!

12 Sridevi

An established star, even as a child, Sridevi made her first Bollywood appearance as the young sister in 'Julie'. It was a precursor to the charming personality that would captivate audiences with immaculate performances in 'Sadma', 'Chalbaaz', 'Mr.India', 'Himmatwala' among others. After a hiatus of 15 years, she returned onscreen as the endearing Shashi Godbole in 'English Vinglish'. 

13 Ayesha Takia

Her career began as a 15 year old Complan girl, opposite Shahid Kapoor. Almost a decade later, she signed her first film with another debutante, Abhay Deol, and directed by a still amateurish Imtiaz Ali. 'Socha Na Tha' was a sleeper hit that got her the Filmfare award for the Best Debut. However, her career failed to take off, despite a good performance in films like 'Dor' and 'Wanted'. 

14 Shahid Kapoor

The other 'Complan' kid, Shahid's appearances as a background dancer in 'Taal' and 'Dil Toh Pagal Hai' have become data for trivia enthusiasts. After a couple of years spent on music videos, he made his debut in Ken Ghosh's  teenage romance 'Ishq Vishk'. Since then the actor has evolved into one of the most bankable stars with hits like 'Jab We Met', 'Kaminey' and 'Haider'. 

15 Hrithik Roshan

Having played his part as lucky mascot in his father's films like 'Bhagwan Dada' and 'Aas Paas', Hrithik made his debut with the stylish 'Kaho Naa..Pyaar Hai'. It launched a mania among fans across the country. 

16 Jugal Hansraj

His cute puppy dog eyes and acting talent made him one of the most popular child stars in the 80s. Sadly, the star kid of 'Masoom' could not transform into a dependable actor. His roles in films like 'Aa Gale Lag Jaa', 'Papa Kehte Hain' and 'Mohabbatein' were hits and misses. He turned director with 'Pyaar Impossible' and 'Roadside Romeo' which audiences found impossible to stomach. 

17 Sana Saeed

As the cute, precocious Anjali in 'Kucch Kucch Hota Hai', she stole hearts. Almost a decade later, she made her debut in Karan Johar's 'Student of the Year'. Her sexy looks left people picking their jaws off the floor. Especially ones who remembered her as a cute kid who called Shah Rukh Khan 'Dad'. 

18 Aditya Narayan

The son of singer, Udit Narayan, Aditya is a talented singer himself. As a child, he juggled between acting and singing in films. 'Rangeela', 'Akele Hum Akele Tum', 'Pardes', 'Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai' marked him as one for the future. However, apart from a fleeting appearance in Vikram Bhatt's 'Shaapit', Aditya has stayed away from the screen, pursuing a career in playback singing. Like father, like son! 

19 Sonu Nigam

Called the 'new' Mohd. Rafi, Sonu Nigam's career started off pretty early. He made his debut as a child actor in Sunny Deol's 'Betaab', going on to do films like 'Taqdeer' and 'Hum Se Hai Zamana'. Having found his stage as a singer, he tried his hand at acting with 'Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani' and 'Love in Nepal'. Both films failed miserably, but his voice continues to rule the roost. 

20 Junior Mehmood 

When the legendary comic Mehmood spotted a kid mimicking and fun of some actors on a set, he challenged him to come in front of the camera and speak the lines. Such was the timing of the kid that Mehmood promptly surrendered his title to him. Junior Mehmood went on to become one ofthe most recognised child actors in Bollywood. With a credit list like 'Brahmachari' 'Caravan', 'Ustad Pedro' 'Haathi Mere Saathi' 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' 'Kati Patang', he was in the A-list. Sadly, his grown up career did not pan as well.  He still works in dailys soaps though

21 Neetu Singh

It was in Do Kaliyaan (1960) that Neetu Singh made her debut as a child actress. Her talent increased with age and showed in her roles in films like 'Yaadon Ki Baraat' 'Kasme Vaade' 'Deewar' 'Parvarish' and 'Kaala Patthar'. Her pairing with husband, Rishi Kapoor, proved to be a  big hit on screen and off it.