Tag Archives: Bazaar

An Actor – Farooq Sheikh

Writing about Farooq Sheikh has been the toughest. Despite being, one of the greats Hindi Cinema has produced, there is so little to read about him, either in books or even on the internet. All that you know about this gifted actor is through his films and the characters which he played. Farooq Sheikh was one of the pioneer actors in the New Indian Cinema along with Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri. Yet he was not them.Farooq was one actor who had always underplayed himself. When he was asked once, that what he thinks of himself as an actor, he replied saying that he is a very lazy actor who hasn’t achieved much but is happy for what he has achieved. His brutal honesty towards himself is what people loved in him. He never ever got ambitious in his life.

Farooq was labelled as an actor who never had any commercial viability. But he had no regrets accepting this tag. In an interview, he had even accepted his failure at being ‘not so famous’, and still be proud of what he was. He had told, “I have never been commercially viable: People recognise me, smile and wave at me — but I have never received marriage proposals written in blood. In his heydeys, when Rajesh Khanna drove down a street, the traffic stopped — I don’t mind not receiving this kind of adulation. But I do miss not having been able to command the kind of work I wanted. I miss not being 100 per cent commercially viable.

He was a gem in the art film corridors of our industry. Yet, he was different in the way other actors of the same genre went about themselves. Farooq didn’t do an ‘ArdhSatya’ or an ‘Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyo Aata hai’, yet he was present with his own finesse and style in films like ‘Chashme Buddoor, Kissi Se Na Kehna’.

Farooq Sheikh_Chasme Buddoor_Ravi Baswani_Rakesh Bedi_Bollywoodirect

Farooq Sheikh in Garam Hawa_Balraj Sahni_M S Sathyu_Bollywoodirect

Those who adore Farooq, are normally the ones who have seen ‘Chashme Badoor’. His absence from the film scene in the 90s almost made him forgotten for once and all. Television and theatre had then kept Farooq going. His, first love, was theatre. IPTA came as a breath of fresh air in his life after his short stint as a lawyer began to frustrate him. His acting prowess was seen at IPTA and then came the big break with M.S. Sathyu’s Garam Hawa for which he did not take a single penny.

Ironically,  ‘Garam Hawa’ proved to be the cool breeze every young actor needs at the start of his or career. What followed was something that even Farooq had not expected of himself. Satyajit Ray offered him to play Aqeel in ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi’. This was not one of the best Satyajit Ray had filmed, as per the critics but this film definitely fulfilled Farooq’s dream to work with the legend Satyajit Ray himself.

Rekha_Farooq Sheikh in Umrao Jaan_Bollywoodirect

Farooq was a brave actor back then; he would choose movies no other actor would dare to say yes to. A case in point is ‘Umrao Jaan’. This film was all about Rekha and in those times when male-dominated films existed, I am sure it was a tough call as a male actor to do Nawab Sultan. Even the poster of the film had Rekha all over it.

With ‘Noorie’, he announced that he could deliver single-handedly. ‘Noorie’ went on to become the seventh highest-grossing film that year. For someone like Farooq, this would be a straight jacket entry into mainstream cinema as ‘Noorie’ was a Yash Chopra film. But he never let anyone categorised him. He did whatever came his way and this is why we see such diversified roles done by him in such a short period of time. If in ‘Katha’, he was the ‘Hare’ who liked chatting a lot and boasting about himself to woo people then in ‘Sath-Sath’, he played a stern man who could not sacrifice his principles. Then, in Bazaar, he was entirely in a  different story. This versatility in him created an image for himself in the industry. Farooq Sheikh could do a ‘Siddharth’ in Chasme Buddoor with the same ease he did ‘Basu’ in Katha. All these films became classics with time. and Farooq had a major role to play in making them one.

But despite these great performances, what he got were just appreciations in the form of good reviews and the tag of ‘good actor’. It was, finally, in the year 2010 that we saw him getting the National award for the best actor in a supporting role for ‘Lahore’ – a film that won several accolades around the globe. This recognition came much later to Farooq who deserved more than what he got. But as he was Farooq  Sheikh, these things – awards and recognition- never mattered to him.

I have written how he wasn’t an ambitious man. It was for this reason that he did even the smaller roles with the same excitement and vigour. Despite him being lost from the film scene in the 90s, he had no ego whatsoever to do serials like ‘Chamatkaar’ and ‘Ji Mantri Ji’.

And who can forget ‘Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai’, one of the best show Indian Television has produced and undoubtedly, the main reason for the show to get engraved in our memories was Farooq Sheikh. He wasn’t very glamorous and fizzy in the way he anchored. He was simple, genuine, calm in the way he handled the guests at his show. In two simple words, he was just Farooq Sheikh. Clad in Kurta and Pyjama, a dress he wore the most in his last 15 years of life, Farooq made sure there was no boredom in the show.

farooq sheikh_Deepti Naval_Bollywoodirect

It is not correct to say that he wasn’t an aware star. Those who knew him on- screen, they loved him. And those who know him off-screen, they adored him for being a person that he was. Deepti Naval remembers him as a man who was part of her career. She acted with him in as many as nine films. For her, he was a constant part of her professional as well as personal lives.

After his funeral procession was over, teary-eyed Shabana Azmi came out and said, “There will be no ‘Tumhari Amrita’ Without Farooq. The curtains have fallen.” ‘Tumhari Amrita’ was one play which both of these greats had been performing for the last twenty years till 2013. In early December of 2013, Shabana and Farooq had performed the play in Agra and after the completion of play, Shabana had told him, “Let it be our last play, Farooq. I believe this should be the end of ‘Tumhari Amrita’ to which he resisted, “Why! I think we should do this role for another 20 years to come!” After two weeks or so, Farooq Sheikh left the world leaving everyone shocked.

Written By: Shubham Pandey 

Caution: The opinion expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the author. Cinemaforensic/Bollywoodirect is not responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information/Opinion, facts appearing in it do not reflect the views of Bollywoodirect & Bollywoodirect doesn’t assume any responsibility or liability of the same.

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Smita Patil – a powerhouse of talent

Smita Patil – a powerhouse of talent.

written by Souranath Banerjee

Numerous popular stage performances, more than 80 films in Hindi, Marathi and other regional languages, a torchbearer of the Indian parallel cinema, two National Awards as ‘best actress’, many Filmfare Awards and also the recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri – all-that in a career which spanned only over a decade as Smita Patil passed away at the young age of 31!

Smita-pic1In the early 70s Smita Patil used to be a television newscaster for Doordarshan when acclaimed filmmaker Shyam Benegal took notice of her and gave her the first role in his film Charandas Chor (1975).

Mr.Benegal who later worked with Smita in numerous other films recalled the first time he met her ‘She had a presence which I felt could be well utilised in cinema’. And indeed so.

Smita patil’s performance in Bhumika (for which she received her first National Award at the age of 21) impressed Jaya Bhaduri so much that she commented ‘makes you sit up and take notice. Her reflexes are uninhibited and she has a face with tremendous mobility’. 

A few starting scenes from Shyam Benegal’s Bhumika.

The most expressive eyes ever to have graced the celluloid; her dusky and sensuous looks and the capability to play any character (no matter how challenging) with extreme ease and perfection soon established Smita Patil as one of the most talented actress of Indian Cinema.

A scene from Mahesh Bhatt‘s precious film Arth (1982).

In the early years of her career she concentrated only on art cinema.

Along with Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri, Smita Patil formed the four essential pillars of the then popular parallel cinema.

A beautiful song sequence from the film Jait Re Jait (1977) along with Mohan Agashe

Smita Patil being an activist for women’s rights became particularly famous for her roles that portrayed women as capable and empowered.

Smita-pic2She was probably the first actress who gave the directors enough
courage to make films with female lead characters in mind, something refreshingly different from the conventional male-dominated cinema that existed in Bollywood.

In films like BhumikaUmbarthaBazaar and Mirch Masala Smita Patil’s performances were intensely appreciated both by the critics and the audience. 

A scene from Ketan Mehta‘s brilliant film Mirch Masala (1987) with Naseeruddin Shah as the notorious Subedar and Smita Patil as the daredevil Sonbai.

On the occasion of 100 years of the Indian cinema, in honor of Smita Patil a postage stamp bearing her face was released by the Indian government.

Probably the only actress who could do justice to critically acclaimed films like ChakraSadgati, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, Ardh SatyaMandiAakroshChidambaram and on the other hand be equally comfortable with hardcore commercial films like Namak HalaalKasam Paida Karne Wale KiShakti and so on. 

In Smita Patil’s own words:

‘I remained committed to small cinema for about five years … I refused all commercial offers. Around 1977-78, the small cinema movement started picking up and they needed names. I was unceremoniously dropped from a couple of projects. This was a very subtle thing but it affected me a lot. I told myself that here I am and I have not bothered to make money. I have turned down big, commercial offers because of my commitment to small cinema and what have I got in return? If they want names I’ll make a name for myself. So I started and took whatever came my way.’

Picture curtsey: www.filmimpressions.com.