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Rickshawpuller turns actor, pulls crowd

Waqar Khan's dream came true earlier this month when his first movie Ishq Na Karna was released in cinemas.

india Updated: May 22, 2006 14:19 IST

Waqar Khan's years as a rickshawpuller in Mumbai have finally paid off.

Khan has been driving his three-wheeled motorised taxi for most of the 20 years since he left his home for the moviemaking hub of Mumbai, saving money and studying filmmaking in hopes of becoming a Bollywood actor and filmmaker.

Khan's dream came true earlier this month when his first movie, Ishq Na Karna, or Don't Fall in Love, was released in cinemas.

Some 150 fellow rickshaw drivers pooled 6 million rupees for the low-budget movie after banks refused to fund its production, Khan told a news agency.

Khan, 39, said his friends always made fun of his dream, but he never wanted to give up.

"I always dreamt of working for Bollywood. I spent many sleepless nights outside studios asking for work," he said in Lucknow, where he went for his film's promotion.

The guards at Mumbai's film studios would shoo him away, but Khan said he would sneak in and watch actors and directors at work.

In the movie, Khan's character avenges the death of his lover -- played by newcomer Urvashi Choudhury -- who commits suicide after being forced by her stepmother to marry another man.

The rickshaw driver-turned-filmmaker managed to hire some of the industry's best names for the movie's music, including top singers Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan and Shreya Ghoshal.

"Ishq Na Karna" has had a "very good response" in small towns in Uttar Pradesh, where many people came to see the movie after reading about Khan in local newspapers, said Subhash Sharma of the state's Cinema Owners' Association.

Yet Khan, who hails from Shahjahanpur, a town southwest of Lucknow, said he won't let success go to his head.

"I am still a rickshaw driver," he said.

First Published: May 22, 2006 13:41 IST