By Utpal Borpujari
“Yes, I know I cannot even see what I have done, but if even a few thousand people see my film and take inspiration that a physical handicap need to tie you down, my target will be achieved.”
That is Nasser Khan, a Kanpur-based businessman, who has become the world’s first blind actor to play the lead in a feature film. The film, “Shadow”, hit the screens across the country on Friday.
What Khan, who is also the producer of the film along with Shamshad Alam, is something so unique that even the Guinness Book of World Records informed him that his feat cannot be included in the tome simply because it is a record that cannot be ever broken.
“I will remain the first blind man to play the lead in a feature film, and that record will remain unbroken even if other blind people do the same in the future,” Khan told Deccan Herald in a chat after a special screening of the film for the media Thursday night.
Indeed, cinematic history has been made by Khan, and the film, directed by Rohit Nayyar, will be known for this even though in cinematic terms it is a loud film with the oft-repeated subject of a vigilante bumping off corrupt politicians and builders.
Khan, who plays a man with normal eyesight, is completely blind but has performed some risky stunts and even danced with over 100 dancers, all by instinct and under Nayyar’s guidance.
Khan now has his aim fixed on taking up direction after acting in another film “to learn the intricacies of the art”. “Of course, I will have to find out someone with whom I will have to have perfect vibes so that he or she can be my ‘eyes’ when I direct a film,” says the nattily-dressed actor-producer.
Khan of course is no great shakes as an actor – his body language and dialogue delivery are quite rigid – but one cannot but admire the inspirational courage displayed by him in doing so.
Khan lost his eyesight quite young. He was born with cataract and operated upon several times, leading to about only 15-20 per cent eyesight in one eye. At the age of eight, a house tutor was arranged for his basic education where he was taught English, Hindi, Mathematics, Urdu and Arabic.
Five years later, he took admission in the fifth standard in a small school by his own efforts and switched over to a more renounced school in Kanpur.
By the time he was in his seventh grade, studying became difficult for him as he had to wear different spectacles for reading and other purpose. He used to hold magnifying glass for studies as he could not even see the black board while sitting in the first row. In spite of all this, he stood first in all three classes he studied.
A year later, the retina of his right eye got detached, forcing him to leave his studies as that was the only eye he could barely see with. Surgeries failed and slowly he became completely blind.
But he struggled on, training as a typist, and then going to on to do a diploma in electronics, learning the ropes of his traditional family business of leather tanning, setting up his own leather tanning business, learning programming and repairing, setting up computer education centres in UP, and becoming the first blind man to pass all four certification of Microsoft – MCSE, MCSD, MCSA, and MCDBA