Actor Farooq Sheikh who was in Lucknow recently to attend a literary award function admits that he has been missing from the big screen as not too many good offers have come his way. Excerpts from an interview.
How do you explain your prolonged absence from films? After all you had been rated as a good actor.
I believe in quality offers. Recently not many good offers have come my way. I hope no one would want me to work in films which are made and even their cans are not opened for release. These days theatre is keeping me busy. I am reading a lot of scripts. The day I find an attractive script I will get interested and will myself contact the producer and the director. I thank the public for admiring my work in quality films like Garam Hawa, Shataranj Ke Khiladi and Chashme Baddoor.
Do you mean to say good films are not being produced?
No. I am not saying that. I am only saying that I am not getting good offers befitting my roles. In fact I think today's actors are very very talented. We have people like Aparna Sen and Prakash Jha who are doing good work.
But at the same time you have said that the quality of cinema has suffered. Are you not being paradoxical?
Yes I have said that. Generally speaking the quality of cinema has suffered. I am not surprised at the lowering of standards. Good films are not only those which show the bursting bosoms and posteriors of actresses. Our entire value system has changed and so have our priorities. Cinema continues to be a saleable commodity only. We have forgotten that it is also an art form. Commitment to a larger purpose is lacking.
I must admit that there are has been a stark change from the cinema of the seventies and the present day cinema which is riveting mainly on sex. Today's cinema is also fast paced.
What do you think of celebrity activism?
I think more actors and actresses should come forward to raise their voice about social issues just the way Aamir Khan has done. But I also say why should only celebrities speak up on social issues. Why not the people as a whole?
How do you describe your recent visit to Pakistan?
It was too good. I along with Shabana Azmi performed in 'Tumhari Amrita' stage show and it was widely acclaimed. The people of Pakistan are very friendly and are concerned about us. After all everything is common between Indians and Pakistanis except the colour of passports.
What have you to say of the remake of Umrao Jaan described as magnus opus of the film industry?
In the original Umrao Jaan I had played the role of Nawab Sultan. But I am not very excited about the remake. The remake would be successful only if it looks different from the Umrao Jaan produced by Muzaffar Ali. If it is a carbon copy of Muzaffar Saheb's film then it will fail to entertain.