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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Shabana Azmi, Sarika remember Farooq Sheikh

Team HT Café, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, December 29, 2013
First Published: 12:48 IST(29/12/2013) | Last Updated: 18:25 IST(29/12/2013)

Back in 1973, the Indian film industry was introduced to an actor par excellence — Farooq Sheikh in Garam Hawa.

The actor later became a household name with Yash Chopra’s Noorie (1979). Be it theatre, films or television, Sheikh made his mark in every genre and even had a successful stint as a TV show anchor in the show Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai.

From celebrated and successful plays such as Tumhari Amrita to classic films like Chashme Buddoor (1981) and Katha (1983), Sheikh won over viewers’ hearts with his incredible performances. He even played memorable parts in mainstream movies.

On December 27, the National Award-winning actor was in Dubai to attend a concert, and suffered a heart attack at the age of 65. Fondly remembered by his peers from the film industry, Sheikh is widely described as one of the most humble and down-to-earth people one would meet. He will be deeply missed.


He was a sane voice on social issues: Shabana Azmi (As told to Dibyojyoti Baksi )
The first thing I remember is when I set eyes on him in the corridor of St Xavier’s College. I studied there from 1969 to 1971. He struck me as an extremely attractive man. He was two years senior to me and a
popular student.

http://www.hindustantimes.com//Images/edstoryImg/271009/shabana-azmi-big.jpgWe became friends very quickly. My friendship with him and his wife Rupa (Jain), who was in my class, has spanned more than 40 years. We have worked in several films together. He was a sober, sane and moderate voice on social issues. 

Farooq was a horse rider and one could never find him without a book in his hand. Ever since I’ve know him, he has never said a kind word to me. He used to always pull my leg. But whenever I was in need, he was the first person to be there.

During my BA final exams I panicked before the paper. He had been awake the whole night teaching me and my friend the subject. The next day he filled ink in my pen, took me to the exam hall and waited until I finished my exam. He was the same towards everyone in college. 

The last time we met was on December 14, when we did our long-running play ( 21 years) Tumhari Amrita. We did that at the backdrop of the Taj (Mahal). I said, ‘It’s perfect that we are doing this at the backdrop of the Taj in Agra, we should now put end to this play’.

To which he’d replied, ‘What nonsense. We can do it for another 21 years.’ We have done the play all over the world and it was the only time that he told the director that he would like to have a photograph of it because it was at the Taj. Seven days later he was gone.

 

He was in a good place emotionally: Sarika (As told to Dibyojyoti Baksi)
It goes without saying that he was a very good and intelligent actor. What few people knew was that he was quite a private person. If you knew him as I did, he was very intense and knowledgeable. He was passionate about food, cinema and politics. I was so shocked (to hear of his passing) because he was so positive. He was alright physically, and even emotionally he was in a good place. He was very happy.


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It’s so difficult to pick one memory of him because every hour we spent together on each day of the shoot is full of stories. Every morning it used to feel good because I was going to shoot with him. I remember so many instances when he would praise other films, actors and directors. He was such an accomplished actor, but he was not jealous, competitive or egoistic; you’d wonder what secure space he came from.

This was the first time (Club 60) I had worked with him. I don’t regret not working with him earlier because we made a good film together. It’s special.







 

We have been great friends : Poonam Dhillon (As told to Kavita Awaasthi)

We have been great friends and over the years have celebrated Eid, Diwali and Holi together. His wife Rupa (Jain) is a dear friend of mine. I have known them from the time they got married and had children. It’s a very sad loss for his family and the industry. His young daughters must be devastated.
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I remember working with Farooq in Noorie (1979) when I was a child and he was in his 20s. He was an experienced theatre actor and I was a newcomer. He was one of the most literate, well read and educated actors I have worked with. To talk to him on any subject was amazing as he was well informed and aware of the events in the world.

I am sure he resisted the temptation of telling me what to do and how to do things in a scene all the time. He was my senior and could have been a know-it-all but he wasn’t like that at all. He gave space and wasn’t overbearing. He wouldn’t tell people what to do just because he was a good actor. But if you asked him, he would give his opinion.

I have so many memories of him — right from being at his wedding to various events in his life. In those days, we were frequently in touch, but in the last couple of years not so much. I am grieving his death. He had a lot going for him apart from his acting career; he was into theatre and philanthropy. The second phase of his career was just starting.





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