When the Bollywood hero was busy outpacing bus and train, Farooq Sheikh played characters who travelled by them. Together with Amol Palekar, he was the alternative to the angry young man in the 1970s and 1980s.
In film after film, he showed that you don’t have to shout your lungs out or dance around trees to convey your emotions. With films like Garm Hava and Gaman, he emerged as an everyman, who grappled with real issues in a realistic fashion, but Sheikh managed to steer clear of the image trap. He forged a hit pair with Deepti Naval and did a series of films which Naval described as artistic entertainment. Katha, Rang Birangi and Chashme Buddoor were midway films. They were not boring in the name of art,” Naval told The Hindu in an interview some time ago.Views on social, political issues
A choosy actor, who was sometimes misconstrued as a laidback person, Sheikh, a law graduate, held strong views on social and political issues. “After Noorie, I could have easily repeated myself as a romantic hero in mainstream films but I waited for different roles to come my way. Umrao Jaan was different from Chashme Buddoor and Bazaar was different from Katha,” Sheikh told this journalist last month before the release of Club 60.Other challenges
When cinema didn’t offer him challenges, he found them in television and theatre. Known for his affable smile and genial ways, he surprised his fans when he donned gloves as a kick-boxing coach in Lahore and grey shades as a bureaucrat in Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai. But here again, he floored us with his underplay. Over the top or larger than life was never the description for him even when he did parts in tripe like Toofan.Moderate voice
Though he was not enthused by the description, he was considered a moderate voice in the Muslim community on social platforms.
“The government either listens to those go on fast unto death or those who pick up the gun. Where is the space for moderate voices,” he asked. Someone who believed in straight talk emphasised the need for the community to look within.
“Does a Farooq Sheikh need to buy another car or can he remain happy with his two-wheeler and donate some money to the underprivileged people in the community?” said Sheikh, who never cared to wear the tag of philanthropist on his sleeve.
He will be missed both on and off screen.