Ahmad Shah, Pakistani pop culture's biggest child star these days, has been a popular target for internet trolls ever since he was catapulted to fame. One such troll snuck into Aijaz Aslam's Instagram comments recently but he wasn't able to slide by Aslam.
Shah, or the "cute Pathan kid", as he's come to be known, has been a recurring star on Pakistani TV screens. Ramazan transmissions, morning shows, game shows — you name it. Recently, he's been a frequent part of ARY's Jeeto Pakistan, and in one of its recent episodes, he shared the screen with Uraan actor Aslam.
Aslam uploaded a video from the episode of himself with Shah and Waseem Badami on his Instagram, saying, "JPL moments with the little champ".
The three are talking about a cricket match they were to play on screen, where Badami is seen joking with Shah after he doesn't invite him for the match. After Aslam reminds him that they're going to bowl Badami out, Shah changed his mind about inviting him. He's going to bowl him out for a duck, Shah told him.
Fans loved the video and flooded the comment section with compliments, especially for the rambunctious Shah.
And then the troll struck.
"Sab ache lag rahe thay. Phir is chottay bachay pe nazar parri. Ab dislike ka button dhoond raha hoon. [Everyone was looking nice. Then I saw the small kid. Now I'm looking for the dislike button]," he wrote.
Aslam, however, wasn't having it.
"Why so much hatred for a five-year-old child?" he asked, as it really makes no sense to dislike him for anything. "Has he done any harm to you?" he questioned.
"Just think good about others and your life will become beautiful," he advised, adding, "[May] Allah bless you."
And here is the problem that needs to be addressed. Child stars, including though obviously not limited to Shah, are criticised heavily when they gain fame. Sure, you could argue that haters are an accompaniment for fame and appear out of nowhere, like creepy flying ants after a short stint of rain, but that shouldn't be how we treat kids on or off the screen.
In Shah's case, he got famous after a short video clip, 'Peeche toh dekho', went viral on social media. He became an overnight sensation across Pakistan and even beyond borders, with the likes of Indian cricketing hero Virat Kohli admitting to being his fan — he now has 1.43 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, and north of 30,000 followers on Instagram. The fame was followed by media invites, of course, the entertainment industry sniffing out a new star. But he was too new and as soon as he (or his viral one liner) became a household name, the criticism began to roll in.
"He's got no talent" is a commonly heard criticism, as is "fake" and "a sellout". But these critics seem to be forgetting that Shah is a child and doesn't deserve to be hated. Anyone hating on him and using these excuses needs to reflect on themselves and the sort of aggression they're harbouring for an actual child.
There is a lot of valid criticism for the media for sensationalising children for fame and using them as memes, punching bags, and lab rats all for ratings and money but that criticism shouldn't be misplaced and directed towards the victim — the child. Shah, like many other children, is just trying to be funny and to hate him for that is strange.
He's a little boy who likely has little awareness of what's going on around him but he might hear of mean people on the internet saying cruel things about him and that is going to affect him soon. We hope his parents shield him from this, but it's the internet, so there's only so much they can do. We should really be hoping that grown adults stop cyber bullying a child but there's little chance of that happening.