September 17, 2008
Im the Hari Puttar of India!
By MARK MANUEL
The Bollywood Khans had better beware.Young Zain Khan, the star of Mirchi Films' Hari Puttar - A Comedy of Terrors, is determined to make his presence felt in the film industry. He's nine films old and the face behind 150 ad campaigns. "I've been acting since I was seven," he says, "and now I'm 15; I celebrated my birthday on September 5. Well, I didn't celebrate because it's Ramzan and I'm fasting, but I had fun at school. It was Teacher's Day. My teachers wished me and I wished them, it was quite funny."
He's a wiry little chap studying in tenth standard at Maneckji Cooper in Juhu where, Zain says, they treat him like a normal kid. "There's no fuss because I'm a star, TV par aata hai. Rani Mukerji studied here before me. But we've just met once and I said hello to her," he adds.
He has, however, worked with a lot of other Bollywood stars. Zain counts them on his fingers like a school boy doing math, muttering the names under his breath, "There's Detective Nani that didn't get released, Chain Kuli Ki Main Kuli with Rahul Bose, My Wife's Murder with Anil Kapoor, Dil Saccha Chhehra Jhootha, Parineeta, in which I was the young Saif Ali Khan, Krrish with Hrithik... how many films is that?
And, now, there's Hari Puttar - A Comedy of Terrors. After this, I'm doing a film with Shahid Kapoor; he lives in the building right opposite mine. It's working title is Happy Hamesha." Who are his favourite stars? "Hrithik, John and Salman," he replies. "I like Hrithik and John because of their height - I'm so short - and Salman, because of his body. I'd like to be like him, but taller. They're all good actors, but are so down to earth. They've been very helpful and there's so much to learn from them. John and I got along best because of bikes," he says.
Zain has been representing India at the Asian Junior Motocross Championship; he's a dirt bike racer who's been national champion twice, but hasn't won an international championship yet. He says, "it's my dream to be the first Indian to win the Motocross, also an F1, the MotoGP for circuit racing, and to be an actor." But he's already an actor. "It's more important for me to win an international race than being an actor," he admits.
His passion for bike racing, and his film and ad schedules, give Zain little time for anything else. He's got three bikes, a Honda CR 85, an RX Yamaha 135 and a Kawasaki KX 85. At 15, isn't he a little young to ride? "I have a licence to ride on circuits," he says indignantly, "but I can't ride on the roads. If I do, I could be banned from racing for a lifetime."
He wants everybody to watch Hari Puttar - A Comedy of Terrors, because,"It's a full dhamaal, masti film, pura entertainment, people will love it." It's nothing like Harry Potter nor exactly like Home Alone, he says, "because it has got songs, animation, emotions... and it has an important message: no matter who you are, you need your parents."
The experience of making this film for Mirchi Movies was, "Real, cool fun", Zain says, adding, "Not because I'm playing the lead, but the people I was working with were nice, we had a super time, my co- star Swini Khara is sweet." He's being compared with child star Darsheel Safary, the discovery of last year. Does that disturb him? Zain says, "I don't mind being compared, really, it doesn't stop me from doing my best. But now, I'm the Hari Puttar of India!"
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