By Bilal Kuchay
This Pakistani stuntman unbelievably swallows five 76 cm long swords in one fell swoop and comes out unscathed.
Javaid Iqbal Mastana, 53, is a leader of Farzad circus and performs the jaw-dropping stunts to make a living.
He claims he can swallow seventeen 2.5 ft long and one-inch-wide swords all in one go and perfectly balance three metal glasses on the hilts.
The father of five from Narowal city in Punjab province has been performing the frightening acts since the age of 12 but boasts he has never been hurt.
Mastana says: “I have never sustained any injury. Not even minor.
“It is dangerous but it is all about the tricks. People find it unbelievable and I see the applause as my reward.”
Mastana learnt the tricks from his grandfather who also performed in circus shows.
At first, he stated with a stick but gradually he began practicing with the swords that are slightly blunt at the edges.
He said: ” My grandfather was a performer in a circus. He brought me into the circus when I was only six years old.
“I grew up watching him performing the daredevil act. He fascinated me when the crowd burst into loud applause for him.
“Though he never wanted me to learn this act but I insisted him to teach me the stunt as I wanted to be the main performer during our shows.
“When I was 12, my grandfather agreed to teach me this trick. He opened my mouth and put a long stick inside my mouth.
“Surprisingly, I didn’t vomit. Then, he taught me to put the sword in the mouth.”
The talented man was the youngest performer in his group and people from far and wide thronged to his shows to watch him swallowing seventeen swords.
He said: “Learning this act at a very young age made me an important member of the group. I was also doing Juggling blow fire with mouth and performing with flying masters during our shows.”
When he was at his peak, Mastana made anywhere between £300 to £600 a month, enough to run the household affairs.
However, with the advent of modern ways of entertainment that have led to steady dwindling of the circus business, Mastana says people barely come to watch the shows.
To add to his woes, the local authorities have also stopped giving permission to such circuses because of the wild animals they carry in captivity.
Mastana said: “We had come to Karachi recently to perform in a show but were not given security clearance by the authorities. A lion and chimpanzee were also confiscated by Sindh Wild Life Department and sent to Karachi Zoo.”
“It has been over eight months since we have done any show. I am forced to perform on the streets of Karachi.
“My family is dependent on my income. I used to send £250 monthly to my family but I make no money anymore. All our all savings have dried up and I have no other option but to perform on the streets to earn money.”
Mastana now wishes government to step forward and help performers like him to revive the circus.
“I understand the circus has lost its charm. There is no money because people do not come.
“I will not teach the tricks to my only son either. But I hope that the Pakistan government help us to revive this field which was once a famous mode of entertainment in the country,” he added.