For the regular viewers of ‘Maldivian Idol’, the wide-eyed quirky boy who pokes fun at the show’s host Moosa Waseem on the ‘Allied Insurance’ ads have become a welcoming face to see during the show. The ads are clever and have something authentic, innocent and heart-warming about them – and most people give credits to this quirky little boy for inciting these sentiments.
The boy’s name is Nahuzan Ahmed Hussain – colloquially known as 'Nahu'. He is from Keyodhoo in Vaavu Atoll, and he is the island’s small-scale jack-of-all-trades (and indeed, the master of most of them).
“I play badminton, football and volleyball. I also recite Quran, I’m with the debate club and I put up plays during break time at school,” Nahu said gleefully.
However, what landed Nahu the ‘Allied Insurance’ ad campaign was undoubtedly his impressive acting skills. Nahu has the extraordinary talent of impersonating anybody he meets or sees. It takes him a few seconds to observe – and then just like a magic trick, there he would be – a small version of whomever you asked him to impersonate. With uncanny expressions, tone of voice, and even the stride, Nahu’s skills are impressive to say the least.
When people from ‘Allied Insurance’ visited the island for auditions for their ads, Nahu was not expecting to be picked. In fact, he said he was nervous to the point where he was shaking throughout his audition, and he did not go in expecting to get picked for the campaign.
“When I found out that I was picked for the ads, I wondered why they picked me over all the other kids who auditioned, y’know? I didn’t think I’d get chosen.”
Perhaps it was the humility that came from being the middle-child; but Nahu said that it was a huge honour to be in an ad campaign of such a big company in Maldives. He said that witnessing his family’s excitement over seeing him on television during prime time trumped the excitement he felt over starring in the ads.
So what has Nahu’s life been like since he became a friendly, familiar face for many Maldivians?
“People call me so many names now!” Nahu said with a laugh. “When people see me coming, sometimes they say things like ‘oh look, here comes Maureen, here comes Moosa Waseem!’ Some people have even started calling me the boss of Allied Insurance now.”
Funnily enough, even though Nahu gets called ‘Moosa Waseem’ now, he did not know who Moosa Waseem was when he was filming the ads. For the longest time, even after the ads were filmed, he had no idea who Moosa Waseem was.
“I didn’t know who he was. I wouldn’t have known him even if I bumped in to him on the street. So one day while I was watching TVM with my mum, I asked her to show me who this Moosa Waseem person is. And as it happened, he was on TV when I asked.” Nahu explained.
When asked whether wanted to pursue a career in acting, Nahu said that he had bigger aspirations for himself than just banking in on his natural acting talents. Also, he reckoned his mother would not be too pleased with the idea of him pursuing a full-time acting career.
“My mum said it’s OK if I do ads like these once in a while. She’s cool with me doing anything as long as I don’t do anything bad.” Nahu elaborated. “There are two things I want to be: first, I want to be a soldier – I want to work at MNDF. After that, I want to be a professional footballer.”
By this point of our conversation, the sun had started to set. The curious boy gazed at the sky for a bit and told me that it is time for him to go home as he needed to wash up before his Quran recital. After his Quran recital, he is going to have dinner and sleep early.
Thus ended my day with this bright, multi-faceted boy, who is quite possibly the most aptly cast, reassuring face for an insurance company's ad campaign.