Nat boy
Izin Hash with Nayanthara in the film. Izin plays Nithin, son of Nayanthara's character Sharmi. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Eight-year-old Keralite boy Izin Hash — a grade three student of Habitat School in Ajman — who is famous for his role as an ‘Emirati’ in several advertisements in UAE, is now all set for his film debut. He will be seen sharing screen space with South Indian superstars Kunchacko Boban and Nayanthara in the Malayalam film, Nizhal (Shadow), which is set to be released on Friday.

Nizhal is a mystery thriller and is the directorial debut of Appu N. Bhattathiri, an award-winning young editor from Kerala. Izin is playing Nithin, son of Sharmi, played by Nayanthara, and has a pivotal role in the plot.

From Zoom to silverscreen

The little celebrity, who first got international attention when he was interviewed by football legend Steven Gerrard, the captain of the England football team and Liverpool, now has a blue tick on his Instagram and Facebook accounts with 'tens of thousands' of followers.

He was busy with a Ramadan video shoot for an Arabic TV channel when his father spoke to Gulf News on Thursday.

Izin’s acting experience in commercials has been instrumental in shaping his journey to the silverscreen, said his father Hash Javad, a social media manager in Dubai. “He was invited to star in a number of films earlier. But he could not make it for various reasons. Sandeep, the associate director of Nizhal, contacted us through one of my friends and arranged an audition through a Zoom call,” Hash said.

Izin Hash with Kunchacko Boban in the film. Image Credit: Supplied

Director Appu found everything that he was looking for the role of Nithin in Izin and he was chosen from among hundreds of children who were auditioned.

The family, including Izin’s mother Naseeha, a microbiologist in Abu Dhabi, and his two-and-a-half-year-old sister Hawazin Hash, who has also starred in commercials, then flew down to Kerala for the shoot last year.

“As classes were being conducted online, Izin could join from anywhere. He even took his online tests from the film sets,” Izin’s father added. He further said: “It was a rare experience for him — attending classes and taking the tests from a caravan or a running car, or in a shopping mall. While shooting in a forest near Athirappilly waterfalls, he sat on a rock and tried to write the exam. But there were some network connection issues and he was sad that he couldn’t complete it. We consoled him because he had tried his best not to miss his class and exams.”

Pet on the set

Though Izin has worked with many foreign directors and technicians, he had hardly acted in any project in Malayalam, his mother tongue. However, he instantly became the pet of everyone on the set, said Hash.

Izin Hash has tens of thousands of followers on social media. Image Credit: Supplied

Izin also dubbed for his character.

“Everyone, including Chackochan (Kunchacko) and Naynathara, were very friendly and affectionate. Despite all the mischiefs, jokes and tiffs, he was quite professional in terms of acting and punctuality, which made everyone happier,” Hash said. “Nayanthara even gifted him his favourite superhero character toys and luxury chocolates. It was a big surprise for him.”

Featured in Arabic music video

Izin has also starred in a lead role in an Arabic music video released on YouTube by famous UAE-based rapper Freek (Mustafa Ismail). Titled Kafi (Enough), the video was based on real-life events that happen every day in some families around the world and aimed to raise awareness against domestic violence.

Read more

Kafi portrays the abuse of children in their own homes, their mental health problems, how children usually deal with these situations, and the psychological trauma that children experience as a result.

Director’s dream

In a video message, Kafi’s Sudanese director Omar Tartoob said: “Izin is every director’s dream on the set. Izin’s professionalism, his skills, awareness of what is happening and how to portray whatever is being asked for, are just amazing.”

“He was perfect for the role. He is quick in grasping the emotions needed for each scene. It was a challenging role for a boy of his age, but he has done it so well,” Appu said.

When Gulf News first wrote about him in 2018, Izin had been featured in more than a dozen advertisements for national and international brands. Over the years, he has starred and modelled in more than 60 English/Arabic commercials and projects, including advertisements of prominent brands such as Warner Bros, Lifebuoy, Huawei, Volkswagen, Nido, Kinder Joy and Heinz.

Letting his father do most of the talking, Izin said he didn’t feel much difference when he worked in the movie. “I just felt it was a longer project,” said the little actor, who also wants to be an ace chef.

Izin said he gets serious only when he is at work, but otherwise behaves like any other child of his age and also throws tantrums occasionally.