Rest in peace Farooque Sheikh: Your humility and talent will be missed

Farooque Sheikh was a rare combination of magnanimous talent and humility. He will be missed.

Shafiq Ul Hasan December 28, 2013
Who would have known that the movie Club 60 would be his last performance? Who knew that so soon after playing the role of a man coming out of depression and learning to live again, he would say farewell to life forever?

His name was synonymous to the word 'politeness' in Hindi cinema. He was also considered to be the pioneer of ‘The New Indian Cinema’ which was later termed ‘Indian Parallel Cinema’. Yes, I am talking about one of the most versatile, genuine and dependable performers of Bollywood – Mr Farooque Sheikh.

With his death on December 27, 2013 due to a heart attack in Dubai, the Indian film industry has lost an icon, while his fans have lost a dearly beloved actor.

Farooque Sheikh began his film career with Garam Hawa back in 1973, with Balraj Sahini acting as the lead. After his debut, there was no turning back and he was able to impress some renowned directors and producers with his immense talent and top-notch performances, especially in meaningful cinema.

His name comes up with the most revered names of Indian cinema – the likes of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Satyaji Ray, Ketan Mehta, Muzaffar Ali, Naseeruddin Shah, Deepti Naval and Pankaj Kapur. He had the wisdom of selecting the most appropriate scripts to sustain his calibre and he never cared about the length of the role. In fact, he always preferred to choose a script that offered him a different angle, a unique perspective or a role that had not been done earlier.

Farooque Sheikh acted in the 1981 film, Umrao Jaan with Rekha. Photo: File

Mr Sheikh’s depiction of the woes of the common man was probably his greatest talent. He always became so involved with the character that it left a huge impact on his audience and further endeared him to the general public. Even now when I watch him play the role of a rickshaw puller in the film Bazaar, I am enchanted by the touch of reality that he gave to the character.

He played his roles with such emotion that it was next to impossible not to be moved by his acting. He was the kind of actor who impressed the critics with his performance in almost every movie and inspired numerous other actors to experiment with rational and sensible cinema. But I do not think any other actor has been able to play the role of the ‘common man’ with such realism and feeling as Mr Sheikh did.

And even though he tried to change his image by playing a rogue character in the movie Katha, he just could not make that transition and had to revert to his particular genre in order to keep his fans happy.

Veteran actors and peers turned to Twitter to express their sorrow:

Although his entire portfolio consists of only 35 movies, in his 40 years of acting in Bollywood, almost each of these movies became critically acclaimed. Movies like Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Noorie, Umrao Jaan, Chashm-e-Buddoor, Bazaar, Saath Saath, Kisi Se Na Kehna, Katha, Laakhon Ki Baat, Faasle, Maya Memsaab, Bivi Ho Tou Aisi, Lahore, Listen Amaya, Shanghai, Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani and Club 60 are only some of his movies that should not be missed by any means.

Farooque Sheikh worked in television in parallel to his film career. His popular TV shows include Shrikant, Chamatkaar, Ji Mantriji and Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai.

I have no doubts that this loss will be felt by his family, fans and peers alike. People with such a magnanimous talent and such humility are too few and far-in-between.

You will be missed Mr Sheikh.

We hope and wish that your soul rests in peace. May God have mercy on you.
Shafiq Ul Hasan
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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Shafiq Ul Hasan | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend True, he was the most decent and polite actor. By the way in Shanghai, his role was kinda negative which he played flawlessly and so did in Katha. There was one more movie I can't recall the name of it, will share soon, he played a negative role with complete conviction. It was from early 1980's featuring Pankaj Kapur and Naseeruddin shah as well..
Rakib | 6 years ago Ek Pal? Naseer/Shabana/Farooq. I am not sure whether Pankaj Kapur was in it.
Shafiq Ul Hasan | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend Thank you!
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