Child actor Kunal grows up - and makes an impact

Dec 22, 2005 Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Dec 22 (IANS) Child actors generally grow up to be unsuccessful heroes but Kunal Khemu, who has just made a deep impact in his debut film "Kalyug", seems to be an exception.

Remember Jugal Hansraj, the scene-stealer from Shekhar Kapoor's "Masoom" who all but vanished from the scene. In spite of attempts to prop up his career by Aditya Chopra in "Mohabbatein" and "Salaam Namaste", Jugal is today reduced to doing television serials.

As a child actor, Kunal also made a lasting impression in Mahesh Bhatt's "Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke" and later the memorable autobiographical "Zakhm" where he played Bhatt as a child. The entire film revolved around Khemu's character.

Kunal is excited and happy about the positive reviews for "Kalyug" and says: "After 'Zakhm' I chose to vanish from screen to give myself that important space to grow up properly. I wanted to take time off to complete my education and also to save myself from being exposed on screen during those awkward years that come between puberty and maturity."

"This is the kind of debut that most newcomers don't get. I am grateful to Mukesh and Mahesh Bhatt 'saab' (producers) for giving me a chance like 'Kalyug'. My character goes through so many levels of pleasure and pain. I can't stop thanking my stars for such an opportunity," says the youngster who hasn't signed any new film yet.

"The offers were coming during the making of 'Kalyug'. But I wanted to wait to see the response to 'Kalyug'."

There's another film with Mahesh Bhatt on the anvil, and there are other producers who probably want to know if Kunal is exclusive to the Bhatts.

Other phenomenal child stars like Sachin and Satyajeet fell off the turnstiles, though they were launched in style in Rajshri's "Geet Gata Chal" and "Paheli", respectively.

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