There’s going to be a new fall show on the CW called Aliens in America. “For one year, we will be in the presence of a real, live Pakistani, who practices Muslimism.” Hm. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Here’s what it’s about:
Justin Tolchuck (Dan Byrd, “The Hills Have Eyes”) is a sensitive, lanky 16-year old just trying to make it through the social nightmare of high school in Medora, Wisconsin, with the help of his well-meaning mom Franny (Amy Pietz, “Caroline in the City”), aspiring-entrepreneur dad Gary (Scott Patterson, “Gilmore Girls”) and his beautiful and popular younger sister Claire (Lindsey Shaw, “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide”). Although he’s bright and funny, Justin is also shy, socially awkward and pretty much resigned to the fact that he’ll never be one of the cool kids. Franny, however, is the kind of take-charge mom who micro-manages her family, and she’s come up with a plan to help Justin: she signs up for the school’s international exchange student program. Picturing an athletic, brilliant Nordic teen, Franny is sure this new friendship will bestow instant coolness on her outsider son. However, when the Tolchuck’s exchange student arrives, he turns out to be Raja Musharaff (Adhir Kalyan, “Fair City”), a 16-year-old Muslim from a small village in Pakistan.
Raja is thoughtful, responsible and wise beyond his years. To the Tolchucks and everyone else in Medora, he’s also just about as foreign as a foreigner can be. While the rest of the family is slightly freaked out by the Muslim in their midst, Gary is comforted by the fact that the host family receives a monthly check to help with expenses. This fits right in with Gary’s money-making schemes, and when he sees how hard-working and respectful Raja is, he’s totally on board. As for Claire, she’s too busy with her friends and her new boyfriend to pay much attention to their houseguest, but Raja is smitten from the moment he first sees her. After the initial shock wears off, Justin is quickly won over by Raja’s humor, gestures of friendship and by their common status as outsiders. Despite the cultural chasm between them, Justin and Raja develop an unlikely bond that just might allow them to navigate the minefield that is contemporary high school. It’s going to be a very interesting year for Raja, Justin, his family and the entire population of Medora.
The guy who stars as Raja is interesting. His name is Adhir Kalyan.
Adhir Kalyan stars in The CW’s new comedy “Aliens In America” as Raja, the fish-out-of-water Pakistani Muslim teenager who finds himself confronting American misconceptions in a small Wisconsin town.
Kalyan was born and raised in Durban, South Africa, where his mother, Sandy Kalyan, is a member of Parliament in the South African National Assembly. He began his career in the South African theater, performing in productions of “Macbeth,” “Oliver,” “A Christmas Carol” and “The Ground Beneath Her Feet.” Moving to London in 2005, Kalyan landed memorable roles in the BBC series “Holby City VIII” and “Spooks V.” He also secured supporting roles in the independent films “Out Loud,” “The Eastern Bride” and “The Sunflower,” for director Lance Samuels.
Kalyan has an impressive command of languages and accents. He speaks both Afrikaans and French, and has wide range of accents, including British, South African, Middle Eastern, Indian, Pakistani, Scottish, French and Australian, as well as several American accents.