Archive for the ‘RIP’ Category

Remembering Kishori Amonkar

Posted: April 7, 2017 by moifightclub in music, RIP
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Kishori Amonkar passed away this week. I have a failing (as against passing) knowledge of Hindustani classical music. I have what they call a good ear for music. I can discern a few ragas based on years of listening to few favorite compositions by classical vocalists. And, my one-time obsession of doing well in movie/music quizzes meant I had to know the answer to ‘which raga is this famous Hindi film song based on’ kind of questions that usually came my way. Within this limited repertoire of my classical Hindustani musical knowledge, however, I can safely say I must have listened to Kishori Amonkar for a couple of thousand hours over the years.

How it started is a story by itself.

I must have been about 11 years old when a boy named Kishore, who was about 3 years older, entered our friend circle. Or, to be more precise, our circles merged. Over months of playing cricket, football and generally wasting time together, some of the older boys in the group started calling him Kishori. I duly followed suit. On enquiring about reasons for this strange name (I had never come across a girl named Kishori), one of the older boys told me about a singer named Kishori Amonkar who occasionally featured on DD. I filed that away in my memory and went on with life. A few years later I was old enough to start buying blank T Series cassettes (Rs 12 for 60 minutes tape) and using the old Philips recorder to tape anything that caught my fancy – songs from Chitrahar, ad jingles and title tracks of TV serials. The idea of recording something was immensely fascinating. And, soon it got out of control. I’d use the same cassette to record things over and over again – news, cricket commentary, Meryl Streep’s Race to Save the Planet and everything in between.

One late Monday evening I sat with the recorder while the weekly staple – Sangeet Ka Akhil Bhartiya Karyakram – came on. Normally, I would switch off at this time and go to bed. But then the announcer mentioned the name of the artist for that evening – Kishori Amonkar. Well, I stayed back and decided to record it. I didn’t care much about what was played that evening but I recorded about 25 minutes of her signing. My summer vacations soon began and on afternoons when there was no one to play I would listen to the tapes. Since I was being indiscriminate in listening to anything that was there on them, I didn’t forward any tracks. And, so I heard Kishori Amonkar many a times over that month. In May that year, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. The state mourning that followed meant there was nothing on DD except classical music. And, there again was Kishori Amonkar. I watched her sing and what impressed me more was her persona. She had a presence; a certain magnetism that reached out to you despite your complete ignorance of her craft.

Over the next decade I kept that cassette and heard those tracks many times over especially during late evenings in solitude. There was almost a pattern in a certain year in the 90s where I would play Maya Memsaab, Libaas and Kishori Amonkar in that order before going to sleep. One fine day (or evening) the cassette gave away; the tape came out of the cassette while the song was playing and was completely mangled. From then on I listened to her sporadically. I never got myself to buy a CD of her songs. I attended a SPIC MACAY event in late 90s where I heard her sing and I came away with a sense of satisfaction of having heard a legend. That was it.

Only a few years back while scouring through Youtube, I came across a whole treasure trove of Kishori Amonkar songs. In them I found the two compositions that I had on my cassette. They weren’t the exact recordings but it was the same composition. I also learnt why one of those songs felt so right listening to them in the evening. It was Raag Bhoop – a raag to be played in the first ‘pahar’ of the night. I heard them on Wednesday evening when I heard she was no more. I have linked them here.

I was happy to note the next day she was given a state funeral by the Maharashtra Government. Maybe she deserved a bigger honour. But I’m happy that a city like Mumbai still maintains its respect for its true legends. In times when we seem ever so keen on reviving our cultural identity and nationalism, I’d think Kishori Amonkar and her legacy are true representation of what’s great about our culture. That’s what needs protection and nurturing. And, keeping that alive wouldn’t need any vigilantism. It would only need a keen ear and an open heart.

Subrat Mohanty

Remembering Om Puri

Posted: January 20, 2017 by moifightclub in cinema, Gods of Cinema, RIP
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Om Puri

CINTAA, IMPPA and IFTDA, the three film bodies recently organised a memorial event for Om Puri where his friends and fans from the film industry got together and shared their memories.

Varun Grover was there and managed to record some of it. Do check out the playlist. It has Rakesh Bedi, Satish Kaushik, Neena Gupta and Johnny Lever talking about their memories of the actor.

अलविदा, पुरी साहब

Posted: January 7, 2017 by moifightclub in cinema, RIP
Tags: ,

With Om Puri’s death, we have lost one of the best acting talents this country has ever produced. His body of work is impossible to match – from parallel cinema to mainstream bollywood, from indies to world cinema and Hollywood. Any terrific artist like him always leaves behind a huge legacy. But it’s always our small stories about how we felt connected with them at some point in life makes them more memorable. That connect is individual and sacred. Lyricist Swanand Kirkire shared this memory on his FB.

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जब मैं ११ में पढता था, अर्धसत्य देखी थी रीगल सिनेमा में।

सिनेमा में ५ दिन लगातार, १२ से ३।

अनंत वेलनकर दिमाग पर ऐसा छाया था की कुछ दिनों बाद जब फाइनल एक्जाम हुए और अंग्रेजी के पेपर में यूवर हीरो विषय पर निबंध लिखने को आया तो मैंने दे धना धन अपने हीरो ओम पुरी पर ४ पन्ने लिख मारे।

बाहर आकर दोस्तों को बताया वो हंसने लगे ।

किसी ने जवाहर लाल नेहरू पर लिखा था और किसी ने सुभाष चंद्र बोस

मेरी सिट्टी पिट्टी गुम ।

वो तो भला हो पेपर जांचने वाले का की उसने मुझे ठीक ठाक नंबर दे कर पास कर दिया।

बहोत सालों बाद मुम्बई के शुरुवाती दिनों में मैं जानी-मानी अभिनेत्री सारिका जी के साथ एक किताब पर काम कर रहा था।

पता चला पुरी साहब उनके अच्छे दोस्त थे।

बातों ही बातों में ये किस्सा उन्हें सुना दिया ।

२९ अप्रैल १९९९ मेरे जन्म दिन पर अचानक सारिका जी ने मुझे घर पर खाने का निमंत्रण दिया ।

मैं गया तो उन्होंने कुछ लोगों को बुला रखा था ।

उनमे एक ओम पुरी साहब भी थे ख़ास मेरे लिए !!!!!

सारिका जी ने मेरे निबंध का किस्सा उन्हें सुनाया, खूब हंसे थे पुरी साहब !

सपने देखने और पूरे होने दोनों की शुरुवात ओम पुरी साहब से हुई ।

सारिका जी का जितना शुक्रिया कहूँ कम है ।

पुरी साहब आप का जाना वजूद से किसे हिस्से के चले जाने जैसा है ।

काश कोई मुझे वो पुरानी एग्जाम की कॉपी ला कर देता ताकि मैं आपको फिर से बता सकता की आप मेरे लिए क्या थे । 

अलविदा । 

– स्वानंद किरकिरे

RIP Robin Williams – Genie, you’re free

Posted: August 13, 2014 by moifightclub in cinema, Hollywood, RIP
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RW

I was around 8 years old when I saw my parents involved in a silly argument.
It was past my bedtime, and much like a sappy movie scene, I walked to them while dragging my favourite quilt along the floor.
“When are you getting a divorce?” I asked, rather hopefully. My father laughed and wondered aloud why I would ask such an inane question.
“So that you can dress up like a lady and be my Mrs. Doubtfire”, I answered with great sincerity. I hadn’t thought it through, of course. So I added, “And I will act like I don’t know it!”

In hindsight, this moment summed up the first time a movie directly affected my subconscious. And the first time I realized what Robin Williams—a pudgy old caretaker woman who transformed into a desperate juvenile father at will—did for me.
It was no coincidence that Genie in Aladdin—another defining character from my childhood—bore more than a passing resemblance to Williams’ quintessentially-underdog face: Lantern jaw, long nose, signature flappy ears, sunken cheeks, pleading eyes and the most tragic smile this side of a cocker spaniel.
It was the sad droopy smile a smitten boy would forcibly wear while cracking lame jokes to make his girl laugh. He would believe it to be hilarious, and in turn, make his awkwardness break the ice.

I remember that smile—that of a dysfunctional husband forcing it on us, when he reasoned with wife Sally Field in court in “Mrs. Doubtfire”. That wounded Oscar-winning smile when Stellan Skarsgard—his ex-friend and rival—mocked his romanticism in “Good Will Hunting”. Or that condemned smile of unrequited love when Annette Bening refused to get over her dead husband in the more recent “The Face Of Love”.

I was too young to fully grasp the experience of watching “Good Morning Vietnam” and “Dead Poets Society” for the first time. Now I’m too old to watch it without being influenced by his following work.
But I remember never being able to forgive the makers of “One Hour Photo”. They had taken my human robot (Bicentennial Man)—in my mind, a whacky invention of the lovable Dr. Kosevich (Nine Months), mutating my memories of Peter Pan into slimy Flubber, and turned him into a blonde-haired psychopathic lab technician. What made it worse is that he hadn’t really changed. Most of it was down to Williams’ own shape-shifting genius, but tell that to a dorky teen already struggling to adjust to Jim Carrey’s new dramatic persona. The barrier didn’t have to be broken in Williams’ case, because he was a naturally gifted performer blessed with an irrevocably needy face for a comedian.
When he tried too hard, he wanted it to show—it was part of his act.
All he had to do was smile more, which led to disturbing images of unstable characters in Insomnia and August Rush.

For some reason, I was forever under the impression that he appeared in an early Batman movie as the Penguin or Ridder. This made sense because if you combine Danny Devito’s old-world gravitas with Jim Carrey’s hyperactive freakishness, you’d get Robin Williams.
He was, in flesh and blood, the resurrection of Tragicomedy.

Moreover, Robin Williams looked like a broken-hearted man. Whether he was actually one, I selfishly chose not to know.
A sad man doing impersonations and silly voices to spread joy held a different kind of charm. It gave rise to a sort of hopeful laughter—not the kind of guffawing that follows stand-up comics who bring the house down, but the kind of restless smiles that made a troubled world a happier place. It was heartwarming, funny and poignant all at once.

Perhaps this is part of his act too, I’d reason—a philosophy and way of life reminiscent of the old frail Chinese magician in “The Prestige”. Was he so committed to his craft? Was life his greatest act?

“Bechaara (poor guy)”, I’d think whenever I’d saw his face on screen. And now I know why.

He was that famous old uncle. Every family has one—the life and joy of every party and festive gathering.
But nobody noticed that he arrived alone, and would always leave alone.

– by Reel Reptile aka Rahul Desai

(This was first posted on Rahul’s blog. For more posts by Rahul, you can visit his blog here)

Dear Favourite Fatso, Goodbye!

Posted: February 3, 2014 by moifightclub in Hollywood, RIP
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PSH

As this year’s Sundance selection list came out, a friend from Calcutta pinged me on whatsapp, and asked why am i not going to Sundance. I asked why. He said two new films of Philip Seymour Hoffman are premiering this year. I told him i am sending my man to get the job done. I was serious about it, but it was too early to let the news out.

A close friend and editorial team member of this blog, Neeraj Ghaywan, was selected to get the Mahindra Sundance Award. As our long chain mail between usual suspects went on and on about who wants what from Sundance – this bag, that merchandise, those liquor, that Quinoa, i said get me PSH. I never chase actors, they all are of the same breed, and mostly, boring. Have never bothered for anyone’s autograph or photograph – be it Hollywood or bollywood. It’s always the writers and directors whose tales attract me. But PSH was different. I reminded him again and again to get me his autograph on one of the posters of his new films. But if the film turned out to be bad? Well, it never mattered how the film was going to be. Because Hoffman was always great, in every bad film too.

Neeraj reached Sundance. Updated us about what he has got and what he hasn’t. I reminded him again – Get me PSH! He said he can’t find him. I joked how it is possible to not spot such a fat man. He can’t hide anywhere. I don’t know why i was insisting so much on getting his autograph this time. Because there have been few occasions in the past where i could have managed it. Always wanted it, and always thought i will manage it some day. So never pushed the way i did this time. Now, it all makes sense. Maybe that thing call intuition.

Few years back, as a friend updated me about how he came for the screening of their films at her film school in NY as he was executive producer on one of the shorts, i asked everything possible about him. As another friend saw one of his theatre act live, and narrated the experience, i would get gooseflesh imagining myself in place of him and thinking about his act in front of my eyes. Simply because he was one of my all time favourite actor. And one of the greatest actors of this generation.

It was Magnolia when i sat up and took notice of Hoffman’s talent for the first time. And then went back tracking him in all those small roles. The fat guy in supporting roles with hardly any screen time but making an impression in every role he portrayed – from Scent Of A Woman to Boogie Night, Hard Eight to Happiness. A drag act in Flawless to a suspicious act in The Talenetd Mr. Ripley. As he started getting noticed, meatier roles came his way, screen time increased, and so did his weight. And i always found that it worked in his favour. An actor so fat, it always made him look like he was one of us – not fit, never in perfect shape. Few actors are so fat. And among those, most just use their body as a prop for comedy. That’s the general routine. Fat actors in serious roles are a rare breed (Yes, Gandolfini too). A character actor who gradually when on to become the leading man with all his weight intact, he became my favourite fatso. In any conversation whenever we would talk about films and acting, i would call PSH exactly that – favourite fatso. It made me feel as if it was all cool and casual between us, as if i knew him well, and could joke about his weight like we do with close friends.

So when he portrayed any character, it just added a natural layer to it. He always looked like that distant uncle whom you are fond of, one who would give you a bear hug on a bad day, share a beer with you after yet another heart break, and will tell you stories about love, life and experiences of yesteryear.

When i watched him in Almost Famous, that was my first lesson in journalism – Be honest, and unmerciful. I thought was it really like that. Uncool? Few years later as i landed in bollywood, it turned out to be the ultimate truth. Just replace the rock scene with bollywood films. When i watched him down and out in Love Liza, i wanted to hug him and tell that his plane will fly the best. Whenever i have got angry on phone, i remember his SHUT UP, SHUT THE FUCK UP, SHUT SHUT SHUT SHUT SHUT SHUT UP in Punch Drunk Love, and have always felt shouting exactly like that. When he got his first sex scene with Marisa Tomei in Before The Devil Knows You Are Dead, i jumped with joy and shouted YAY! He finally got one. Fat man can fuck! Why should only the Greek Gods with bulging biceps get sex scenes in Hollywood. Graduating from a creepy phone sex to a real deal, i was the happiest as if a close friend of my just lost his virginity, and that too with Marisa Tomei. Only difference was this time it was on screen. And when i decided to learn swimming, many a times i would imagine that i will bump into Jack on the other end of the pool, struggling exactly like me as he did in Jack Goes Boating,

He made it difficult to believe that he wasn’t the real Dan Mahowny, or the real Truman Capote. And then came one of my favourite films starring Hoffman – The Savages. I saw my reflection in the role he portrayed, that bittersweet sibling equation, and it made me face my own fears. “Excuse me, we haven’t served refreshments yet” bit still brings a smile on my face. Watch this gem if you haven’t.

When the news came out of his collaboration with one of my favourite screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman, i tracked every possible news about it. The expectations were too high. The film left me bit cold with all its complexities, but i could not imagine any other actor who could pull that off with so much ease. He was the Caden Cotard who taught me what “Cotard’s Syndrome” is.

He held his own in front of Meryl Streep in Doubt, he made fat look cool in The Boat That Rocked. If i start counting all his films, the list is long – Charlie Wilson’s War, Moneyball,  The Ides Of March, and one of the most powerful roles in recent times – The Master.  The hypnosis he could do on screen always felt real. Has he ever done a film where you don’t remember him? Naah, i don’t recall.

As far as the autograph story goes, now it feels like Mary and Max story – an animation film which he voiced. There were no letters between us, i guess his films were enough. And like Mary, i also got bit late. Do watch this gem too if you haven’t.

Thanks for all the movies and the memories, PSH. I don’t understand actors. You were the one whom i really loved, respected, and was in total awe. It’s been 24 hours now, and it’s still difficult to believe that there won’t be any new film starring The Philip Seymour Hoffman.

– From a fanboy NotSoSnob

PSH1

(PS – As far as drugs go, we all got our demons to battle. Sometimes we win, sometimes they. It’s not a choice, and it’s not easy either. So keep your judgements for some other day, for some other things)

विदा

Posted: January 5, 2014 by moifightclub in bollywood, cinema, Guest Post, RIP
Tags: ,

Posts on Farooque Shaikh saab are still pouring in our mailbox. Earlier Varun Grover wrote a post आम है, अशर्फियाँ नहीं (click here). And then actor Swara Bhaskar wrote another beautiful post about her memories and working experience with him (click here). This new post is by Sudeep Sohni, a first year screenwriting student at Film And Television Institute of India, Pune.

Farooque

फारुख शेख सेट मैक्स, ज़ी सिनेमा और स्टार टीवी पर दिखाई गई फिल्मों के कारण दिमाग में कुछ इस तरह बस गए कि अब स्मृति से छूट नहीं रहे. सिनेमा का एक सादा चेहरा, शुक्रिया तुम्हें, ये दिखाने के लिए मुझे कि सिनेमा इतना सादा भी हो सकता है.

ख़ामोशी के जंगल जहाँ अपनी पत्तियों की आवाज़ें सुनाते हैं

तनहाई का मंज़र जहाँ अपने पैरों के निशान छोड़ जाता है

जहां दूर से एक हाथ बस हिलता हुआ दिखाई देता है

पुकारने अपनी ही आवाज़

झक सफ़ेद कुर्ते में जहाँ एक मध्ययुगीन दशक मुंडेर पर बैठा

उड़ाता है सिगरेट के धुएं में बेबसी के छल्ले

जहाँ नुक्कड़ की पान की दुकान, ठेले की चाय और कमरे की बेरुखी

तकाज़ा करती है सदी की सबसे महकी दोपहर का

जहाँ शाम का ढलता सूरज और रात की उदासी

मचलते ख्वाब की नमी छत की कड़ियों में अटका जाती है

वहीँ से शुरू होता है सफ़र तुम्हारा.

 

विदा

उस ठहकती हंसी से

जिसमें अब भी बंद है संसार का सबसे ख़ूबसूरत समय

और

जो किसी भी भाषा की भाप से पकड़ में नहीं आएगा

वो समय जो दर्ज है आँखों की खिड़कियों में

और जो चाहे तब भी उड़ नहीं पायेगा भाप बन कर

बस जमा रहेगा

किरचन बन कर रुई की लुनाई-सा

कि जब तुम दिखोगे परदे पर कहीं टीवी के

दूर तालाब के किनारे

उतर आएगा ख़ामोशी का गर्म सोता

और बहता रहेगा रगों में आहिस्ता-आहिस्ता.

This is a guest post by actor Swara Bhaskar. She worked with Farooque Shaikh in her film Listen Amaya.

listen amaya3

Perhaps the most vivid memory I have of the iconic and gentlemanly Farooque Shaikh is from the second day of shooting Listen Amaya. We were in the chaotic and uncontrolled environs of the Paraathhey Wali Gali of Old Delhi, trying to shoot sync-sound (!) a long conversational scene. It was hot, noisy and the narrow lane was becoming increasingly stuffed with curious onlookers since word had got around that the much-loved veteran actor was in Puraani Dilli. We were between shots and had eaten a large number of paraathhaas, and the production had relaxed the ‘set-lock’ so that crowds could go about their morning routine. Two scrawny men, hands-in-one-another’s-neck in the classic Indian male camaraderie pose sauntered by. One of them spotted Farooque sir and started. He came up right upto Farooque sir’s face, close enough for me to smell the gutkaa on his breath (!), peered at Sir with beady eyes and exclaimed to his friend, “Abey Frook Saik ko dekh ley!” The friend also brought his face close, looked and rejected the proposition pointing a scoffing finger at Farooque sir’s nose. “Abey yeh Frook Saik thodey hi hai! Chal bey!” They argued a bit more in this vein, peering and pointing, till the first friend turned to Farooque sir and asked nonchalantly, “Abey tum Frook Saik ho kya?” Farooque sir looked regretful and said apologetically, “Haan bhai sahib, hoon. Muaaf kar do, agley janam mein yeh galati nahi karungaa!” And that day I discovered the most telling aspects of Farooque sir as a person – grace, dignity and wit in any circumstance.

In the days that came, still shooting in that bustling, throbbing, historic part of the Capital I discovered Farooque sir’s wit was ever-ready, always decent and sometimes wicked! Again we were waiting between shots, this time in an air-conditioned sari shop in Dariba Kalan. Farooque sir sat with his back toward the shops entrance. I looked up two minutes into having entered the shop and found the glass windows of the shop plastered with faces, staring and pointing at Farooque sir’s back. “Sir you are going to be mobbed, how will we get out of here?” I asked. “Don’t worry, I’ll tell them all you are Katrina Kaif and then watch them clear out of my way.” I smiled at his reply. A minute later we were called to location. The single and novice assistant director escorted us out of the shop. Sure enough Farooque sir began to be mobbed. Holding a protective arm around me and totally unfazed he said in a loud voice in Hindi, “So Katrina! How did you like riding a cycle rickshaw?” A murmur ran through the crowd and some people began to crowd around and peer at my face before expressing their disappointment vociferously! Farooque sir however reached the cycle rickshaw comfortably and merely smiled at my horrified exclamations.

Generosity was another quality that defined the great actor. Farooque sir was always giving gifts. But his generosity had the mark of an aristocrat. The flourish of the Nawabs, who he has essayed in more than one memorable portrayal. Back in the bylanes of Old Delhi, as we shot, we passed a sweet shop.

“Swara ji, would you like a gulab-jamun?”

“Sure sir!”

He turned to the man behind the counter and said “How many gulab jamuns do you have bhai?” The man replied in Delhi’s typical surly manner, “How many do you want?”

“How many do you have my dear man?” repeated Sir.

“First you tell me how many you want.” Replied the man now cocky.

“I’ll take as many as you have.” Said Farooque sir calmly.

“I have 25 kilos.” smirked the man.

“I’ll take them all.” Smiled Farooque sir and turning to the spot-boy on our set said “Dada, distribute these among the entire unit.”

15 minutes and a scene later we stood on location and a jaamun seller wheeled his fruit laden cart by us. “Swara ji do you like jaamuns?” Asked sir.

“Yes sir.” I smiled now expecting a bag full of the tangy purple berries.

“Bhai..” Said Farooque sir, putting a gentle hand on the street vendors thin shoulder. “Give me all these jaamuns.”

The jaamun seller stared at Sir in disbelief. “This entire cart-load?” He asked.

“Yes.” Said Farooque sir simply and turned to our spot-boy, and repeated the words we would hear again and again throughout our shoot “Dada, distribute these among the entire unit.”

As an actor Farooque sir was a remarkable lesson to observe and his technique was difficult to fathom. He never spoke much about the craft of acting or his ‘process’ and one often found him reading a book between scenes. But to actually watch him ‘in action’ and witness his effortlessness when performing or (the most difficult task for an actor) just ‘being’ in the moment; one could see that here was an actor with finesse, control and depth in his craft. But perhaps what marked him as an artist with a true understanding of the medium was an aside he once made while narrating a story about Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Mid-narration Farooque sir paused and said, “An actor can never go beyond the vision of a director. This is the truth of our cinematic medium and it’s very important for an actor to understand that.” And then with the characteristic twinkle in his eye and a lopsided smile he quipped, “There you have an excuse to shirk hard-work!”

But amidst all those jokes and wise-cracks there was a profound, well-bred, well-read, genteel decency-of-conduct. And more importantly, a quiet wisdom. These qualities deservedly gave Farooque sir a reputation and public image as spotless as his impeccably starched white chikankari kurtas, and so much affection and warmth from his audiences. A raconteur par-excellence Farooque sir was a fund of stories. Stories about the industry, about actors, directors, stories he had witnessed, stories he had heard, about his own time and about the time gone by. And with each story he would sigh and philosophize about the human condition. In one such account involving an incident between a producer and a-then-superstar, Farooque sir ended with the well-known saying that “just because the sunlight is falling on you does not mean you’ve become the Sun. Today it shines upon you, brightening your countenance, tomorrow it will bestow this grace upon someone else.” Seemingly, obvious and mundane; but in our fame hungry and glory thirsty industry, what a precious-lesson-well-learnt-but-often-forgotten! It must have been an acceptance and understanding of this fickle nature of stardom that allowed Farooque sir to hold his own, carve his own unique place and identity and win the affections and remembrance of audiences in an industry that generates super-stars with almost mechanized efficiency. Though in his own words he laid all the credit and blame for his attitude, his successes and his place in the industry to ‘laziness’. Co-star and friend of many years Deepti ma’am (Deepti Naval) would oft-times chide Farooque sir saying “You MUST write Farooque! Why don’t you write??”

“Who will make the effort? All that hard-work is for your type, I have neither the discipline nor the brains.” Farooque sir would retort and begin to tease Deepti ma’am again.

But he was being characteristically modest. Nothing about Farooque-Shaikh-at-work suggested a lazy actor. It was something else. Farooque sir was an observer. He had that quality that perhaps is considered more apt in philosophers – of observation, understanding, analyzing but never judging. For a man of such sense, education and judgement, Farooque sir was also a person with great empathy. Never once in the (albeit short) time that I was blessed to know him, did I hear a harsh judgement from Farooque sir. Even when he was critiquing someone, it seemed as if he was empathizing with the person’s flaws. A man with a clear understanding of society and politics and Farooque sir always had a perfectly balanced, liberal and fearless position on world events. He seemed to relish this position. Of being able to step into the circus-ring that is Bollywood, play his part and then step out take his seat and watch the show, with that knowing smile on his face. Perhaps that is the true uniqueness of Farooque Shaikh’s place in Bollywood: an insider but equally an outsider; an actor, but also an observer. And that is why in an industry which generally espouses the ‘when-in-Rome-do-as-Romans-do’ philosophy, Farooque Shaikh held his own, and lived and worked on his own terms, truly nawab-like.

Goodbye Farooque sir, but not fair. Too soon! You’ve denied us so much that was yet to come. So many more great performances, warm stories, witty quips, wise observations, promised dinners and that peti of aam!

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(An edited version of this was published in Indian Express)