AN EXCITING young generation of south Asian creative talent is continuing to add new elements to popular culture with a cool approach.
While some have already made an impressive mark with a brilliant body of work, others are showing real potential to be future gamechangers. They are all making themselves people to watch and very much represent the future.
India Weekly decided to celebrate this wonderful young group with the annual 30 under 30 list of top talents.
Iman Vellani: A stunning few years has seen the 21-year-old make an incredible impact with her superhero role Ms Marvel. She leapt from a winning web serial to making her big-screen debut in megabudget movie The Marvels. The Canadian actress has carved out an impressive place in the Marvel universe and the heart of Hollywood. There will be little to stop her from flying even higher.
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan: The talented Canadian actress has become a part of popular culture with four seasons of the hit Netflix series Never Have I Ever. The 22-year-old has laid an impressive platform for future success and has exciting projects on the way that include her forthcoming debut film The Netherfield Girls. She is also backed by an impressive cross-cultural fan base.
Ayesha Singh: The hardworking Indian actress helped carry hit drama serial Ghum Hai Kisikey Pyaar Meiin to huge success. The 27-year-old won the hearts and minds of cross-generational audiences with a powerful performance, which showed off her amazing range as an actor. All eyes are on what she will do next, and the right project will propel her to even greater heights.
Rashmika Mandanna: The actress is fast establishing herself as a pan-Indian star, which is a position that few have been able to achieve. The 27-year-old will follow up her 2023 successes Varisu (Tamil) and Animal (Hindi) with this year’s most anticipated Indian film Pushpa 2: The Rule (Telugu). The dramatically different projects in diverse languages are giving her a remarkable reach.
Geraldine Viswanathan: The Australian actress has been on an amazing run and established herself in the heart of Hollywood. The versatile 28-year-old has shown great onscreen presence in a wide variety of projects, and has been particularly brilliant in the comedy genre. She will carry on her remarkable momentum with forthcoming films Drive-Away Dolls and You’re Cordially Invited.
Sumbul Touqeer: The talented 20-yearold has already played two title roles on major Indian TV serials – following a star-making turn in Imlie with her current drama Kavya-Ek Jazbaa, Ek Junoon. The young actress has gained herself the kind of fan base across different generations that much older stars would be envious of, and has become a shining beacon of youth culture.
Rish Shah: Several high-profile film and television projects have given the actor a lot of attention and set him up for a big future. The 26-year-old has shown off his versatility in a wide array of projects, ranging from TV and web serials to Hollywood movies. He is part of an exciting new generation of British Asian talents making a mark internationally.
Suhana Khan: There is a lot more to the 23-year-old than being the daughter of superstar actor Shah Rukh Khan. The trained actress and accomplished singer made an impactful debut in musical comedy The Archies. With the Bollywood film fraternity rooting for her, she will undoubtedly build on that first step and take giant leaps towards a special career.
Simone Ashley: Hit series Bridgerton catapulted the British actress towards brilliant global success and enabled her to rule the red carpet at high-profile events. She will return to light up screens in season three of the show this year, and is definitely on the radar of major international studios. The 28-year-old has also become a strong role model with her girl power presence.
Pranali Rathod: Just when everyone thought Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai had run out of steam, the introduction of the actress injected raw power back into the iconic drama serial. After delivering a star-making turn on the globally successful show, the 27-year-old left on a high and now has multiple options ahead of her, from more TV shows to movies.
Armaan Malik: The singing sensation has embodied a new generation with his talent, approach and impactful presence. The 28-year-old gaining momentum every year with hit songs in diverse genres and various languages means he will only get better. He very much represents the future of commercial Indian music and will cross even more boundaries.
Avantika Vandanapu: The teenager’s prolific career has seen her feature in films in different languages. Although she has appeared in Indian movies, the 19-year-old is firmly entrenched in the heart of Hollywood and will next be seen in a variety of movies that includes a remake of Mean Girls. She is smashing open doors for other young south Asians in the most inspiring way.
Vedang Raina: Hindi cinema is in desperate need of a young leading man and the exciting newcomer could fill that void. Although Netflix film The Archies was designed as a vehicle for star kids, the actor in his 20s made the biggest impact with a winning supporting role. Having already been compared to Ranveer Singh, he has showed enough of a spark to ignite a successful career.
Megan Suri: The 24-year-old has impressed everyone with her talent since she was a child actress. After a few years under the radar, she gained attention with an impactful performance in hit Netflix series Never Have I Ever and by headlining 2023 horror film It Lives Inside. The Indian American actress is now looking forward to taking on even bigger projects like a boss.
Urooj Ashfaq: A sensational group of English-language stand-up comedians from India are taking the world by storm. The exciting newcomer is part of that game-changing generation and made history by becoming the first Indian to win a major comedy award at the long running Edinburgh Fringe. The 28-yearold is now in a perfect position to become the first lady of Indian
Saloni: The 22-year-old music sensation has showed remarkable versality with songs in different languages, genres and styles. Whether it is with cool cover versions or delivering original tracks with her own unique stamp, the gifted British singer is quickly gaining a big reputation. With more music on the way, she is certain to do things differently and that makes her special.
Priya Kansara: The actress delivered a star-making turn as a martial arts enthusiast and aspiring stuntwoman in hit 2023 British film Polite Society. The 27-year-old showed quite comprehensively that she could lead a movie with a performance that received great acclaim. The Kung Fu-inspired comedy will spin her towards a high-kicking career ahead.
Charithra Chandran: After impactful appearances in popular serials Alex Rider and Bridgerton, the Scotland-born actress is set to hit a higher gear with forthcoming projects Pillow Talk and How to Date Billy Walsh. The talented 27-yearold is also taking creative control with the drama series Song of the Sun God, which she is co-producing.
Asim Azhar: The only complaint fans have with the Pakistani singer is that he does not release enough music, but concentrating on quality has given him an number of hits. The 27-year-old has also proved himself as an accomplished actor, but he is at his best when releasing top tunes and performing live. He is looking at expanding those song-driven horizons with big collaborations.
Kaifi Khalil: The Pakistani singer, songwriter and composer has made a name for himself with his unique ability to put a contemporary spin on traditional Balochi folk music. Although he is known most for his breakout super hit Kahani Suno, the 27-year-old music sensation has a growing list of top tracks and is establishing a presence on the live circuit.
Rishi Singh: The singing sensation rose from humble beginnings to win hit reality TV show Indian Idol 13. The 20-yearold from the northern Indian city of Ayodhya has dazzled audiences with his voice since then and headlined multiple shows. A fast-growing fan base, versatile vocal ability and likeability have made him one to watch in the years ahead.
Simran Balar Jain: Indian content creators have become hugely successful, but there perhaps isn’t one who is braver, more original and important than this 26-year-old. She creates enlightening reels centred on subjects that are rarely openly discussed, ranging from menstruation to sexual health, and tackles taboo issues head on. She has also launched her own product lines.
Shubh: The 26-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter is part of a Punjabi music revolution. He followed up hit singles with his acclaimed 2023 debut album Still Rollin, which became a global success. The musician has accompanied the stunning songs with sold-out performances around the world. He has created great momentum and has a growing cross-cultural fan base.
Erica Robin: The model made history in 2023 by becoming the first contestant to represent Pakistan at the global beauty pageant Miss Universe. The 25-year-old resisted political pressure to break down doors for other women in her conservative country. She raised awareness about important social causes and now has multiple paths open to her, including an acting career.
Shane Nigam: South Indian cinema has been on a stunning upward trajectory in recent years. The 28-year-old, one of the younger leading men making a mark, has delighted fans of Malayalam cinema with films including 2023 blockbuster RDX: Robert Dony Xavier. With as many as six movies on the way, the popular actor is sure to add to the impressive momentum he has generated so far.
Ashi Singh: One of the most technically gifted actresses working in India today helped power hit drama serial Meet: Badlegi Duniya Ki Reet to rack up more than 760 episodes. A stunning performance in multiple roles confirmed the 26-year-old as a huge talent and added to her body of work. That versatility and ability to take on any challenge will result in more magical moments for her.
Vish: He may only be in his 20s, but the singer has already been a huge gamechanger. By popularising Bollywood tunes while busking, he has taken Hindi film music across a new frontier. With more than 400,000 Instagram followers, he has become so popular with his performances that celebrities regularly join him on the UK streets. He has set himself up for an exciting singing career.
Anchal Sahu: The youngest in this year’s list is a teenage TV talent who has gone from child star to playing the title role in daily drama serial Parineetii. The 18-year-old has an amazing acting ability which those twice her age would be proud of. The small-screen star being that good at such a young age means she is destined for an incredible future.
Riar Saab: The rising music star is part of the generation adding a new dimension to Punjabi music. Having started as a member of hot hip-hop quartet Aavrutti, the singer-songwriter from Mumbai is making an impressive mark as a solo artist. The 24-year-old’s songs such as Obsessed, which has crossed 100 million views on YouTube, are among those setting him up for greatness.
Tawhid Afridi: The young content creator in his 20s is leading an exciting new generation helping Bangladesh make huge strides in popular culture. With more than six million YouTube subscribers, the comedic talent is most known for his laughter-filled videos that entertain many millions of viewers. He is inspiring a generation to follow in his footsteps with game-changing moves.