SPOTLIGHT: Meet Arjan Aujla aka Sam from SRK & Kajol starrer My Name Is Khan: Here's how he looks now

Being a child artist sometimes works against me, says Arjan who played Sam in the hit 2010 social drama
SPOTLIGHT: Meet Arjan Aujla aka Sam from SRK & Kajol starrer My Name Is Khan: Here's how he looks now
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Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol's last film with good friend Karan Johar has to be My Name is Khan. The film had gone to win several accolades for its concept and performances, and it also gave a platform to a young 12-year-old child artist. Arjan Aujla played Sam, Kajol's son in the film who becomes a victim of communal bullying in school. Arjan is now a grown up man who's trying to make a mark in films, like several others who are fighting and struggling it out on a daily basis. We caught up with the bright boy who opens up about life, being recognised as Sam and explains why being a child artiste has sometimes worked against him when it comes to getting a Bollywood break. Excerpts:

Do you remember how you got the role in MNIK?

Before the film, I had done a few ads and I also had an agent back them who had sent my folio over to the production house. Then, one day, Dharma Productions called me for an audition. I gave around a series of five auditions in total before I was told that I got the role. I was selected out of 1000 children they had tested.

How was it working with Karan, Shah Rukh & Kajol? Have you stayed in touch?

I believe that my love for acting grew from this experience of working with these three legends. Before that, my parents would just ask me if I'd do something like this. Then, when MNIK came along, the feeling of stepping on set and the atmosphere was electric. My love for cinema began with that film. Karan sir, Shah Rukh sir and Kajol ma'am made me feel safe and comfortable. They would ask me if I needed anything. When Shah Rukh sir would have to shoot a scene with me, he would come up to me and talk about how to do the scene.  He would help me relax and make me feel that it wouldn't be tough. Kajol ma'am would talk to me, joke around and made me feel very welcome on set.

Why did you take a break after that?

I actually took a sabbatical to focus on my education. I had to take a month off from school but they weren't regularly allowing me to be absent from my classes. Then I wanted to focus and finish my education and maybe get back if I really felt like it. Somehow, that was my thinking and my ideology. I wanted to work on myself and come back reinvented. Also, I didn't want to show myself growing up in front of the camera. Then, people don't get to see the change in you.

How many times have you been recognised as Sam?

There have been a few times but many times, they haven't. Because I was really young when it happened but now, it doesn't happen. It was 10 years ago and I also don't look the same anymore.

You were also a casting assistant for sometime...

For 10 months to be exact, with Kavish Sinha's On My Kayroll. I was auditioning with his team for a web series. I had made it to the final shortlist but the character they wanted, didn't suit me completely. He told me, 'If you don't get this role, you're always welcome to come work with me and the team and gather experience.' That's what decided because I hadn't been to an acting school. I had no other way of entry into the film industry. This was in 2017, and I was regularly auditioning for films even then. He gave me tips, helped me wherever possible. I conducted auditions so I learnt a lot more.




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Has it ever been difficult to get roles because a lot of child artists do face that as an obstacle where filmmakers don't want to cast them...

It doesn't help me at all, in fact, it works against me most of the films. Many people feel isne Dharma ke saath kaam kiya hai toh wohi launch karenge isko. That's not it. This was 10 years ago; I have maintained touch with them but they are also extremely busy. They aren't waiting for someone like me to come so that they offer me a film. I'm not a star kid; I won't be offered a film immediately. That's the truth and reality of it. I do have to work for it. I regularly get audition calls from all casting companies in Bollywood, be it Mukesh Chhabra or YRF and Shanoo Sharma. Even though they know I've worked in MNIK, the only notion they might have is that I might have an air about myself because I worked with SRK at such an early age. But when they get to know me, they know the truth that it's not like that.