“Adaab. Is this a array of Ms Shubhra Gupta who writes for Ind Exp ( sic)? Farooque Shaikh”. With this calm message, we began a array of conversations with one of a glorious actors that Hindi cinema has had a payoff of hosting. He had good things to contend about a square we had written, and finished that sell with: “allah karey zor-e-kalam aur zyaada”.
Our final phone discuss happened after a recover of his Club 60, in that he said, “for actors like us, we need sensible, supportive opinion, to tweak a ears and keep us on a toes”. From any other actor who had been on a pursuit for over forty years, it would have seemed like a common brag, a retreat I-am-so-regular-even-when-I-know-I’m so-great-kind of comment. From Farooque Shaikh, it came opposite as accurately who he was: an actor of ineffable gratification and a lady of politeness and nuance, who brought a declining ‘nazaakat’ to his lines. With his passing, Hindi cinema and entertainment mislaid a superb artiste, and a poetic man.
Farooque Shaikh came to Hindi cinema when actors like him were given a tools they deserved. The midst 70s and some of a 80s were a years when middle-of-the-road was not only a intelligent phrase. They constructed a kind of cinema that addressed, with a good understanding of gentleness, sharply-observed humour and glorious writing, a needs of an assembly that was happy to see their possess stories. Along with Amol Palekar, Farooque became a print child of that kind of film-making. As Hindi cinema incited into Bollywood, and began coasting on pretentious and coarse content, he found himself on theatre (the play ‘Tumhari Amrita, a two-actor discourse between him and Shabana Azmi, was an memorable experience), and television, as a warm and enchanting host. His film appearances became fewer, though they constantly carried a projects he pronounced approbation to.
The pleasure that a good performer can give does not count on how many time he is on screen. This is clear in his unequivocally initial brief tour in M S Sathyu’s classical ‘Garam Hawa’ (’73), in that he plays a immature tyro who swings between faith and despair, representing a voice of a new India struggling with racial and eremite identities. It was a same unrestrained and liking that shone by in a be-sixty-and-happy Club 60, in that he is a heart-broken father of a son too-young-dead, training to travel past his grief and live again.
There was a small frisson in his opening in Club 60 that felt as if he was channeling an middle sadness, a carryover from his off-screen life. At that time, we discharged it as a reading-too-much-into-a-scene-problem, something film critics are infrequently disposed to. But now, looking back, we wonder: what was it that he was feeling, when he done us feel his pain? Was it an unappreciative prescience?
Not that he was all down in a dumps and serious. In one of his best early performances he plays a wily, smarmy associate who takes advantage of his ‘seedha–saadha’ friend, and takes his adore away: Sai Paranjaype’s Katha (’83) was as decisive a Bombay chawl film as was Chashme-Buddoor (’81) a Dilli-in-the-80s-film. In a former , he is a ‘kaamchor’ and ‘chichhor’ (shirker of work, and a lout); in a latter, he is one of 3 DU (Delhi University) students who lives on uninformed atmosphere and ground-out cigarette butts and dreams of a girl-next-door. Though he showed he could be cunning in Katha, withdrawal a good-guy purpose to Naseerudin Shah who gets a girl, Farooque mostly got to play nice, since that’s a approach he came opposite many strongly: a fresh-faced immature fellow, with slicked-side-parted hair, attired in a bush-shirt and trousers, not unequivocally tucking in his tummy, swelling positivity.
In both Chashme-Buddoor and Katha, he is teamed with Deepti Naval, with whom he had a long, cultivatable shade association: their final corner coming carried an normal film like Listen Amaya, in that a span showed how good actors get improved with age, just, yes, like excellent wine. What could progressing be upheld off with small merriment was now mature and filled with ‘thehraav’ (an actorly steadiness that calls courtesy to itself precisely since it is not showy). Both Deepti and Farqooue, only sitting opposite any other filled that room with their presence.
In a years before his black demise, Farooque’s appearances in such big-star vehicle, big-budget cinema as Shanghai and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani lent a films much-needed heft. In a former, he played a dim character, and left me wondering if his arena would have been opposite with some-more ‘negative’ tools rather than a rational ones he customarily got to do; in a latter, he brings rarely-seen understated poignance to a ‘filmi’ father.
But we consider Farooque Shaikh did best with a good stuff, since he had such grace. As he himself would have said, and did to me several times, ‘Bahut Shukriya’. You showed us a good time during a movies.