Filmmakers and media persons paid rich tributes to Farooq Sheikh in New Delhi recently.

A group of about 50 people from different walks of life gathered at Press Club of India (PCI) this week to pay tribute to Farooq Sheikh, who died on December 27, 2013, at the age of 65. Present to pay respects to the cine star were M.S. Sathyu, noted filmmaker, Suresh Jindal, producer, Anand Sahay, a noted journalist and columnist, Sanjeev Upadhyay, a broadcast journalist, and Anil Anand, general secretary of PCI.

Describing Sheikh as a progressive actor and a sophisticated person, Sahay said the actor had a discriminating taste as he chose roles with great care and did not fall prey to commercialisation. This was evident from the limited number of films he did in a span of almost four decades.

Sanjeev Upadhyay recalled Sheikh’s presence in PCI last month to promote his film “Club 60” and described him as the “aam aadmi” of films who will be missed by his fans since the ordinary man has ceased to exist not only in cinema but also on the small screen. The actor’s talent was not limited to emoting alone as he had compered a quiz programme on the radio also. He termed the artiste as a “good person” and “dependable friend” who could express himself on several subjects.

Suresh Jindal, producer of films like “Shatranj ke Khiladi” and “Katha”, said all those who interacted with Sheikh would invariably comment “bada gentleman aadmi hai” and remembered how Satyajit Ray, impressed by the actor’s debut in “Garm Hava”, had already zeroed in on him for a role in “Shatranj ke Khiladi”. He recalled that the actor was “disciplined, never had any grouse or complaint” and was a dream come true for a film producer.

Sathyu was asked to make a critical appraisal of Sheikh by Sahay since the qualities which endeared him to all were already known. Sathyu, who had spotted Sheikh in an inter-collegiate theatre competition representing St. Xavier’s College, said it was the actor’s innocent demeanour which persuaded him to cast him as Balraj Sahni’s youngest son in the film “Garm Hava”. The actor understood the set-up very well and adjusted by travelling sleeper class and staying at budget-hotels as Sathyu had to manage in what he aptly called “beggar’s budget” and not even a “shoe-string” one. The performer was a “good friend and a noble person who preferred to do meaningful and good films and had a great sense of humour and timing.” Sathyu summed up his experience of directing Sheikh as “enjoyable” and said he knew that the newcomer would definitely be an actor to reckon with in future.

On several occasions, Sheikh sacrificed his remuneration for his role in the play “Tumhari Amrita” , when staged for a humanitarian cause, and also persuaded the director, Feroz Khan, to do the same. Similarly, the actor reached Mangalore to publicise Sathyu’s Kannada film “Ijjodu” on director’s request though he was not connected with the film even remotely.

Sheikh was not only a gourmet but also knew the best dishes offered by a city and where one could procure them. Sathyu narrated that while staying in a five-star hotel in Hyderabad the actor brought the famed Hyderabadi kababs and biryani for the cast. Though he is older to Sheikh, Sathyu said with the former’s demise he will miss a “great friend”. “Garm Hava” was screened for the audience at the end of the discussion.