India Abroad January 10, 2014
Even when I was too young to grasp the concept of films and make-believe, I was immensely fond of Farouque Shaikh.
Back then, I didn’t have any solid
reason to explain my attachment.
Except that he bore an uncanny
resemblance to my beloved Mamaji
(maternal uncle) and filled the
frames with his beaming goodness
and bounce, which I could surprisingly appreciate even at that age.
I first saw him on big screen as the
romantic Nawab Sultan in Umrao
Jaan, but it was his accessible boy-next-door appeal, high on humor
and lovability, in feel-good fare
like Chashme Buddoor and Kissi Se
Na Kehna that made my day.
Even as I devoured his glorious
resume — Katha, Picnic, Noorie,
Rang Birangi, Saath Saath and
Bazaar on Doordarshan or VHS, it
would be a long time before I
returned to the cinema halls again to
view one of the not-so-memorable
outings of his career.
In Manmohan Desai’s 1989 superhero fiasco Toofan, he essayed the
supporting role of Amitabh
Bachchan’s best friend (Don’t Worry
Be Happy, remember?). Regardless
of Toofan’s silly content, I felt god-awful about the tragic fate Farouque
Shaikh’s character Gopal meets in
It took an unlikely film to confirm
it; I adore Farouque Shaikh.
Oblivious to my affection, he reciprocated with his elegant artistry, disarming wit and multifaceted insights
as a movie heavyweight, theatre personality, television star or celebrity
The more I watched him (
especially his earlier work in Garam Hawa,
Gaman, Shatranj Ke Khiladi), the
more I understood his ingenuity.
Regrettably, the film industry could
never exploit his versatile range as
actively as it should have.
To not have delivered a single bad
performance in one’s career is an
exceptional feat. Even in absolute
drivel lacking coherence and intelligence, he did not. No wonder he won
his first and only National Award for
an obscure release called Lahore.
In my career as a film journalist, I
interacted with the biggest and the
best without any trouble, but the
mere glimpse of Farouque Shaikh
would instantly transform me into
an embarrassing version of Bashful,
Once at a multiplex, he stood
before me in the snack queue (akin
to Shah Rukh Khan’s elevator scene
with Juhi Chawla in Darr minus the
stalker undercurrent), like a stereotypical, star-struck fangirl, I spontaneously nudged my finger on his
crisp white chikan kurta.
To my surprise, he turned around
and acknowledged this indefensibly
childish gesture with a sweet smile. I
would have recognized that smile
in a crowd.
I would like to believe his smile
spoke to me. That it valued my
inaudible admiration. Unable to
speak, I smiled back nervously and
went on to order the most unforgettable popcorn of my life.
Though I never interviewed him,
I am glad I expressed my awe for
the man during his lifetime.
The news of his sudden demise is
yet to sink in. But when a luminary
is as precious and palpable as
Farouque Shaikh, the loss feels
undeniably personal. ;
Sukanya Verma on how much she
adored Farouque Shaikh
Ican’t believe he’s gone so suddenly and so cruelly. Farouque was in Dubai with his wife and daughters when he suddenly suffered a massive heart attack. He just collapsed. Is that any way to go?
We were close friends from before we worked together.
We were in college together. I can’t believe he’s gone.
— Shabana Azmi was Farouque Shaikh’s co-star for 21 years
in the play Tumhari Amrita and did some of her best films
with him, including Lorie, Ek Pal and Anjuman.
She spoke to Subhash K Jha.
Farouque Shaikh was not sick at all. In fact, when we were work- ing together during Listen... Amaya, I was sick, but he was totally fit, very energetic and
enthusiastic. Nobody had the slightest
hint that such a calamity could happen to
His death was such a shattering news,
first thing in the morning. I have had
such a nice and long association with
him, suddenly I feel so lost (startscrying).
He was a very happy-go-lucky person.
His sense of humor was strange and
wacky. He would always pull my leg.
Mostly I would be upset with him. I
would often ask him to speak seriously, at
least some time.
He would joke on the sets as well. I was
the butt of all his jokes so I would get
angry with him. I would tell him not to
make me the center of his jokes.
He would say, ‘Why are you bothered
when everybody is enjoying and laugh-
I would feel, can’t he make fun at his
own cause instead?
He was very sensitive and a very fine
actor. He was well-educated and loved
reading. He loved shayari and memorized
We would always be concerned for him
that he was overweight. Since he loved
food, we would always tell him to lose
weight but he would always say he’s
This is such shocking news. It was not
time for him to go away. In fact, it was
time for him to work. We had wanted to
work together after Listen... Amaya. He
was a natural actor. When he was in front
of the camera, you would never feel is acting.
We had a comfort zone together. Our
rapport was magical. I have never experienced that rapport with anyone.
We last met two months ago at the
Sharjah book fair, where we were both
invited. I read short stories and poems
from my books and Farouque interviewed
me. We were there for two, three days
and we discussed a lot of books. It was a
very good experience.
After that, we would text each other.
Whenever I had any problem, I would
only have to call him. He would never
answer the phone. He would send a text
message, asking ‘Khairiyat (All okay?).’
He never liked speaking on the phone, he
would always send text messages.
We met after a long gap and started
working together. I will always regret that
this was a very short-lived experience.
— Deepti Naval and Farouque Shaikh
made one of the most popular on-screen
couples of Indian cinema, having acting in
some brilliant films like Chasme Buddoor,
Katha, Saath Saath and their last film
together Listen... Amaya.
She spoke to Patcy N.
Shabana Azmi and Farouque Shaikh in
Deepti Naval and
Farouque Shaikh in