I never had a chance to work together or interact with Farooq yet our plays ran parallel to each other for over two decades. His loss has far more significance in theatre because there are very, very few actors, universally, who can make stage and film equally convincing. Typically, they excel in one or the other field. Actors like Naseeruddin Shah and Paresh Rawal fall into this bracket, and then, there was Farooq.
What set him apart and made his career graph interesting was that he never demeaned himself with his choice of work. Take a look at the films he’s worked in — it said something about the man, and the respect he had for his craft.
Also, you will notice how common people are able to rattle off his filmography with ease, from his roles in Chashme Buddoor to Umrao Jaan and his most recent, Club 60.
He was a genuinely good guy, and that remained the impression he left with all of us in theatre. He was even a student of my mum’s at St Xavier’s College.
I’ve watched Tumhari Amrita three-four times… While Shabana Azmi was the star, I simply couldn’t take my eyes off his character. He was spectacular. His was the more difficult part, as it was pretty straightforward.
The challenge while reading out a play is that you cannot use your body to emote, and reach out to the audience.
But he was able to transport them into that world, and the story, within the limitations that the script demanded. Such was the brilliance of Farooq Shaikh.
— As told to Fiona Fernandez