Remembering Farooq Sheikh: An actor, a gentleman

Veteran film and theatre actor, Farooq Sheikh passed away due to a heart attack while he was in Dubai with his family. With this loss, Indian cinema lost one of its truly individualistic actor, a man whose name was synonymous with the parallel cinema of the 1970s and ’80s. Farooq Sheikh was born in Mumbai and studied Law for his formal education. Although he aimed to become a lawyer initially, but subsequently joined theatre and from there on, there was no looking back for him. He debuted in movies with the milestone film Garam Hawa where he was offered the supporting role. Soon, his personality and style of acting became popular among filmmakers and he was offered substantial roles in films. He also played a role in Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj ke khiladi. Having started with supporting roles, Farooq Shaikh always stood for the low budget yet highly creative cinema, and was among the potent forces which gave Indian parallel cinema its much needed boost in the ’80s.

Farooq Sheikh’s acting style was always associated with sophistication and his image was always of an actor who is ordinary and resembles the common man; just like one amongst us. This quality of Farooq Sheikh gave him the flexibility to act in various kinds of movies which accounted on the behalf of good cinema and his performances were showered with praise. Among his films which were successful and are remembered even today are Chashme Baddoor, Noorie, Umrao Jaan, Saath Saath and many more alongwith his successful pairing opposite theatre actresses, Deepti Naval. These films made the actor extremely popular among the audience and he received much appreciation from people who loved watching these kinds of films. However, his later movies did not do well commercially. Farooq Sheikh was one of those actors who was keenly involved in theatre and films simultaneously. His play Tumhari Amrita, an adaptation of A R Gurney’s ‘Love Letters’ is counted as one of the highly successful plays in the history of Indian theatre. A story of unrequited love, it was sheer delight for theatre-lovers to watch him and Shabana Azmi act on stage. He kept returning to stage frequently, giving his trademark stage performances everytime.

However in the past few years, he was again seen in various films like Saas Bahu and Sensex, Lahore, Shanghai, Listen Amaya (which released last year), Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (as Ranbir Kapoor’s father) and most recently, Club 60 (which was the last film he acted in).
His on-screen chemistry with Deepti Naval was much-loved by the audience and the memorable song ‘Tumko Dekha to Yeh Khyaal Aaya’, sung by Jagjit Singh, was picturized on them. The beautiful song ‘Zindagi Jab Bhi Teri Bazm Mein Laati Hai Hamein’ is again a real favorite amongst film-lovers. He was also a philanthropist and those who knew him, fondly referred to him as truly a gentleman and a kind person. This is a heartfelt tribute to the actor, who with his effable acting and modest but admirable body of work won the hearts of many cinephiles. A man who was not a superstar, but truly a star when it came to his talent and what he stood for. May his soul Rest in Peace, there won’t be a Farooq Sheikh again.

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