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Bollywood Beginnings: Child Stars

Before becoming household names these celebrities made their silver screen debut as children. Can you recall which films they debuted in?

Aamir Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Sashi Kapoor—today these celebrities are well-known names in Bollywood. But how many of us remember their silver screen beginnings? These are some of Bollywood's talented actors who made their mark as children and went on to capture the hearts of millions. These fledgling actors, often the offspring of celebrity parents, had an early introduction to films. In spite of their short onscreen time as children, they were still able to leave a lasting mark on the audience.

The good old days

A child acting prodigy is no new thing in Indian cinema. One child actor that probably needs no introduction is Sridevi. A well known actress in the 80s, she made her first debut in films when she was just four years old. She acted in a number of Tamil and Telugu films before she got her first Hindi film role. The first Tamil film that she acted in was Kandhan Karunai in 1967. The first Hindi movie she acted in was Solvan Saawan, which was a remake of the 1977 Tamil film, Pathinaru Vayathinile.

Another female child actor of yesteryears, who is well remembered, is Neetu Singh. At the age of ten, Neetu made her onscreen debut in 1968. She starred in Do Kaliyaan, the Hindi version of the popular English movie parent trap. The film highlighted her talent as she was cast in dual roles in the same movie.

One of the most notable male actors of early Indian cinema, who started his career as a child, was Shashi Kapoor. Shashi, though well known for capturing our hearts with his line "Mere paas maa hain" from the movie Dewaar, made his debut much earlier. At the age of six, Shashi starred in Jayant Desai's film Tabdir, in 1945. His other early acting roles included parts in early mythological themed films such as Bhakta Dhruva, Bhakta Gopalbhaiya, Bhakta Bilwamangal, and Veer Babruwahan.

Another Kapoor who had had an early introduction to the silver screen was Rishi Kapoor. He was cast by his father Raj Kapoor in Mere Naam Joker in 1970, to play the younger version of Raj Kapoor. Rishi fitted well in the role and the slightly chubby child star will be warmly remembered for mimicking a younger version of his father onscreen.

Today's young talent

Some of today's leading men and women have continued this tradition of gracing the silver screen at a very early age. One such actor was Sanjay Dutt. Well known for his role in Munnabhai, his film debut was when he was twelve years. Sanjay Dutt starred in his fathers film Reshma Aur Shera where he played a small role.

Aamir Khan first graced the silver screen in a 1973 movie called Yaadon Ki Baarat in 1973. Similar to Rishi Kapoor, Aamir played the role of a younger version family relative, in this case his uncle Tariq. However, his first major film role as a grown up was in Ketan Mehta's Holi in 1984.

Another of today's celebrities that made an early start was Hrithik Roshan. Like many other celebrity children, at the age of six he made his debut in his father's film Aap Ke Deewane, in 1980. In 1986, Hritihik won a major role in the film Bhagwan Dada where he acted with eminent actors such as Rajnikanth and Rakesh Roshan.

Bollywood celebrities today have carried on this tradition of introducing their children to the attraction of the silver screen at an early age. They often introduce their children to the silver screen at around the same age that they were introduced to it. For example, Amitabh Bachchan had his first film debut in 1969 with Saat Hindustani at the age of twenty-seven. His son Abhishek had his first film in 2000, with Refugee at the age of twenty-four. As the years go by, Bollywood will definitely continue to churn out its lineage of celebrities that will charm the generations of tomorrow.

Do you think that Bollywood doesn't have enough child actors? Who are your favourite child actors? Would you predict that they would be the stars of tomorrow? To share your views and experiences, click here.

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