Indian actor who played super-hero ill with cancer

MUMBAI, (Reuters) – For Shafiq Sheikh, the irony is  tragic.

Sheikh, who acted in the spoof film “Ye Hai Malegaon Ka  Superman” about an Indian super-hero who saves his town from a  tobacco-loving villain, is himself suffering from mouth cancer  caused by his incessant tobacco habit.

“He made the film about the after-effects of tobacco, but  now he is suffering because of that very habit. We kept telling  him not to, but he didn’t listen,” said Shaikh Nasir, the film’s  director.

The film deals with local issues, has local actors and is in  the local language. Malegaon’s Superman is skinny, wears shorts  and flies into electric wires, his mission to save a village  from a tobacco-loving villain.

The movie, which was acquired by producer Sunil Bohra, was  to release nationwide in November, but Shaikh isn’t sure if his  lead actor, who is only 25, will still be alive.

“He may not be around till then, so we are doing a premiere  in Malegaon on Eid (August 31st), and screening it once there. I  want it to happen while he is around,” Shaikh said.

The film has been made on a shoestring budget with a  handycam, and with local youth as actors. But people have taken  notice.

“Superman” was screened in two prestigious film festivals in  the country and led to the development of a 34 episode TV series  titled “Malegaon Ka Chintu.”

“He acted in the TV series too, and that is when we realised  he had cancer. The producer of the series, Deepti Bhatnagar,  brought him to Mumbai and paid for his treatment,” Shaikh said.

“He was operated upon, but the cancer has re-emerged,”  Shaikh said.

Sheik, who is married with two daughters, is part of the  Malegaon film industry, which produces low-budget, spoof movies  set in the industrial town of Malegaon, around 300 km (190  miles) from Mumbai.

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