Playing Big on the Small Screen

We have seen her play a tormented child fighting against injustice in the popular television series Phulwa, but in Imagine TV's latest offering, Haar Jeet, Jannat Zubair Rahmani is far more submissive. The ten-year-old plays a role that she perhaps relates to a tad more — a Mumbai-based child actor. Sharing screen space with her is 12-year-old newbie, Khushali Prakash Hirani, who essays the role of a small-town girl aspiring to be famous.

"The theme of the show is competition that children face in today's world," said Saurabh Tewari, head of programming and fiction at Imagine TV.

At a press conference in Delhi recently, sharing the podium with him were the two child actors, dressed in the manner they appear on screen. While Jannat essays the role of Ishita, Khushali is seen as Mahika. Wearing fuchsia pink and yellow lehengas, bindis on their foreheads and hair tied in tight plaits, the television series portrays the duo not just as excellent dancers, but also seasoned actors who are well-acquainted with television terms like cut, action, repeat and make-up. While they act their age occasionally, at other times, they are child brides, young widows and teen queens with a perfect pout.

However, life up there can be lonely and tough, and this forms the crux of the narrative.

"Children stop living their life at a very young age and start living their parents' dreams," added Tewari.

While the show, that started on October 3, looks promising and the issue sounds realistic, there is a great amount of irony attached. After all, Haar Jeet is television's commentary on itself.

"Children often come back home with a lot of mature questions that we do not have answers to. At that time, I tell Jannat to just rehearse her lines and get out of the character after the shoot," said Jannat's father, Zubair Rahmani. Gorging on chicken lollipops and paneer tikka, his young daughter, meanwhile, had rehearsed answers to most questions. How does she handle shooting and homework? "I don't get any homework from school, I only get worksheets and I finish those on the sets, before shooting," stated Jannat.

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