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.