Page last updated at 11:49 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 12:49 UK

Bollywood first for blind actor

By Pratiksha Ghildial
BBC Hindi service

Naseer Khan
Mr Khan says that he wants to inspire other people with disabilities

A blind Indian is preparing for what is believed to be the first time a person with such a disability will perform a starring role in a Bollywood film.

Naseer Khan, 36, is all set to make his debut in a film called Shadow.

It features him as a gunman with normal vision who performs various death-defying stunts.

His appearance marks a radical change for an industry renowned for its glamorous women and muscle-flexing men who are free of disability or blemish.

'Normal life'

Mr Khan, from Kanpur in north India, completely lost his vision when he was a teenager. He had struggled with partial blindness since birth.

Akshay Kumar
Bollywood stars such as Akshay Kumar tend to be all conquering heroes

But in the film, he plays a swashbuckling character without any obvious impairment.

"I want to prove to the world that having a disability doesn't change anything, one can still continue leading a normal life," he said.

Naseer Khan's action scenes in the film include racing a jet ski, diving, rotating a motorbike, performing stunts on a burning car and jumping off the 38th floor of a building.

Mr Khan, who co-produced the film, stars alongside actors Milind Soman and Hrishita Bhatt.

He decided to take the plunge into the world of acting a few years ago when he happened to be on the sets of a film directed by his friend.

"I thought that acting wasn't a difficult job at all, all you need is time and money," he said. "Of course I have changed my opinion now!"

Naseer Khan belongs to a family of leather industrialists and real estate agents. His passion for Bollywood films brought him to Mumbai and his new career of film production.

"I have always tried to do everything that a person with normal eyesight can do. For example I have received training in leather tanning and also done a course in repairing electronic goods. I can fix video cassette recorders and dish antennas with ease.

"I do take the help of a normal-sighted person while fixing electronic goods. I instruct them on how to repair the product after detecting what the problem is," he says.

And it's not just action scenes - Naseer also dances in the film, an essential requirement for any Bollywood blockbuster.

This, he says, was one of his most difficult challenges since he could not see what the choreographer wanted him to do.

He therefore learnt his dance moves by touching and feeling the choreographer's movements.

"There were times when I felt scared doing dangerous stunts but I was determined to complete them. I thought if a certain scene was integral to the film then it had to be shot despite the difficulties.

"The primary objective of making this film is not commercial success. I just want to inspire people to follow their dreams and aspirations.

"Impossible is not a word in my dictionary."

The film is set to be released later this month.

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