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Former Bollywood child artists who went off track

With former child artiste Shweta Basu Prasad apparently turning to prostitution owing to a financial crunch, we take a look at actors who got lost in anonymity after getting much attention as kids

Last month, Shweta Basu Prasad was apparently caught by the Hyderabad police as part of a prostitution racket. The 23-year-old actress has apparently told the police that she made some wrong choices due to which she ran out of money and was forced her into prostitution. This news has shocked many in the industry.

Also read: Bollywood actress caught in prostitution racket

Actors Shabana Azmi, Shweta Basu Prasad and Makrand Deshpande at a promotional  event for their film, Makdee, back in 2002.
Actors Shabana Azmi, Shweta Basu Prasad and Makrand Deshpande at a promotional  event for their film, Makdee, back in 2002.

Sanjay Routray, one of the producers of the film, recalls meeting her recently at a suburban mall, “Her mother told me that she is getting good money for her films and Shweta had told me that she was going to approach leading production houses for her Hindi film debut as a lead actress. I am saddened by the incident,” he says.

Shweta shot to fame in 2002 when she won a National Award for her role in Makdee. After this, she starred in TV serials and a few Bollywood films, before acting in Telugu films. This incident then brings to light that child artistes, who attract fame and money early on in life, are not always able to follow it up with the same measure of success once they grow up. Shailesh Kapoor, CEO, Ormax Media, says that the success ratio of child actors growing up to play lead roles is as low as 2 to 5 percent. “There is no superstar who started out as a child artist. Urmila Matondkar, Aftab Shivdasani and Hansika Motwani are a few names who managed to get work as grown ups. The physical demands from a child artiste and a grown-up actor are very different. The former requires one to be cute, while the latter requires good looks, style and personality. This explains the low success rate,” he says.

Urmila, however, feels that it has more to do with today’s youngsters wanting to make a quick buck. “It is heartbreaking to hear about this, but it is also about your upbringing and the lure of glamour and a posh lifestyle that pushes one to such an extent,” she says, adding that while many get carried away by the fame, she is among the few child artistes who completed her education.

hitlist takes a look at other names who haven’t enjoyed success the way they did as kids...

Shafiq Syed
Lowdown: He played Chaipau in Salaam Bombay and won a National Award for it. Uday Shankar Pani, who has worked on the film, says that after becoming a household name, Shafiq went back to the footpath.

Mira Nair (centre) with Hansa Vithal (played Manju in Salaam Bombay) and Shafiq Syed (played Chaipau)
Mira Nair (centre) with Hansa Vithal (played Manju in Salaam Bombay) and Shafiq Syed (played Chaipau)

“After growing up, he worked as a junior artiste — a boom operator. He is now a rickshaw driver in Bangalore though he called me recently to tell me that he has film offers and is considering taking them up. His dream of working in the film industry has not ended,” says Pani.

Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Rubina Ali
Lowdown: Starring in Slumdog Millionaire, they were Hollywood director Danny Boyle’s discoveries and although they have moved from the slums of Bandra to one room kitchen flats in Bandra and Santacruz, both have no film assignments.

Rubina Ali
Rubina Ali

Azhar, who is 15 years old now, wants to pursue acting and claims that he has been getting offers, but nothing seems to have materialised except for a small cameo in Kal Kisne Dekha Hai.

There were also reports about the kids starring in Anthony Hopkins’s film, Lord Owen’s Lady, but there seems to be no development on that front.

Jugal Hansraj
Lowdown: He was discovered by Shekhar Kapoor, who cast him in his 1983 film, Masoom. He went on to play roles in Karma and Sultanat. But his first film as a grown up, Aa Gale Lag Jaa, where he was cast opposite Urmila Matondkar, didn’t do well. Then he starred in Mahesh Bhatt’s Papa Kehte Hain, but it didn’t help Jugal’s career. After this, he got a big opportunity with Aditya Chopra’s Mohabbatein, where he played one of the main leads.

Post that, he played cameos or character roles in some films and took to direction with the animation film, Roadside Romeo, and Pyaar Impossible, which failed to impress audiences. He is said to be still keen on directing films.

Baby Guddu
Lowdown: Her real name is Shahinda Baig and she became a popular name in the ’80s.

Baby Guddu
Baby Guddu

She then played prominent roles in films like Samunder, Akhir Kyon; her last film as a child artiste was Ghar Parivar. Today, she works with Emirate Airlines in Dubai.

Master Alankar
Lowdown: A child artiste of the ’70s, he starred in yesteryear films such as Dream Girl, Don, Sholay and Zameer. After he grew up, he bagged offers for only side roles, which is said to have disappointed him. He has apparently moved to the US where he runs an IT business.

Junior Mehmood
Lowdown: One of the busiest child stars of his times and probably among the highest paid too, Junior Mehmood (seen in films like Kati Patang and Caravan) failed to impress the audiences in his grown up avatar.

Junior Mehmood
Junior Mehmood

“Not everyone can become Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. I am quite happy in my space today. I am producing and directing Marathi films,” he says. He is presently seen in the serial, Pyaar Ka Dard Hai Meetha Meetha, where he plays a househelp.

Master Raju
Lowdown: He starred in the film, Parichay, and shared screen space with the Big B in Abhimaan; today he’s doing cameos in films and TV shows.

Master Raju
Master Raju

He started his career at the age of 5 and won a National Award for Chitchor. As an adult, he got noticed in the show, Chunauti, but he didn’t get lead roles. Today, he is seen in TV shows, Adalat and CID; plus he has acted in films such as Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain and Black Friday. He also did the voiceover for Suraj Sharma in the Hindi version of Life of Pi.

Parzan Dastur
Lowdown: Remember the young Sardar boy in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai who kept counting stars all night and made the dialogue, ‘Tussi Naa Jao’ very popular? Parzan went on to star in Parzania, Sikander and Break Ke Baad. Also known for as the boy from the Dhara oil ad, he is said to have taken a break from acting and is currently concentrating on his studies.

Avinash Mukherjee
Lowdown: He became popular as the young Jagya in Ballika Vadhu. He returned to TV with Sanskaar—Dharohar Apnon Ki after a gap, but that didn’t help him win over audiences.

Avinash Mukherjee
Avinash Mukherjee

He too is apparently concentrating on his studies right now, though it is being said that he wishes to pursue his Bollywood dream in some years.

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