The news of Farooque Sheikh's sudden demise came a rude shock on the morning of December 28. Like the rest of the country, Sai Paranjpye, who directed the late veteran in her 1981 cult comedy Chashme Buddoor, was left at a loss of words at first.
Director of path-breaking Hindi films like Sparsh, Katha and Saaz, Parajpye, 75, who now lives a secluded life, remembers the late actor in a rare interview.
Arey arrey. Yeh kya hua (What just happened)? What a way to end the year! The news of Farooque's death was devastating.
This was no time for him to go. Farooque was such a sportsman and this was the most unsportsmanlike exit. His death has taken us all by shock. It’s terrible.
I was very fortunate to have worked with him in two films -- Chashme Buddoor and Katha and I cannot tell you how wonderful he was to work with.
During Katha, the banter and playful one-upmanship between Farooque and Naseeruddin Shah (the other lead in the film) was so precious.
Farooque would say, 'If Naseer and I are in a shot, then it would be Naseer’s back to the camera.'
To this Naseer would retort, 'Yes, of course, because my back is more expressive than your face.'
And they would go on like this. It was such a pleasure to see them together.
Farooque and Naseer also clashed playfully on their religious beliefs.
Farooque was very religious. Every Friday we’d have to relieve him of his work so he could go and pray. But Naseer was not at all religious. Yet he took his mother on a Haj pilgrimage. Farooque would tease Naseer about this.
A more generous and kind-hearted human being was hard to find.
During the shooting of Chashme Buddoor in Delhi, one of our light boys fell from the roof. He had to be hospitalised.
Farooque would quietly visit the injured lightman and pay for his treatment. He said nothing about his generosity to any of us. He was an angel.
One always says nice things about the departed. But honestly, even if Farooque was alive, I wouldn't have a single bad thing to say about him. I’d call him a big flirt.
I’d say, ‘Farooque, kuch toh sharam kijiye. You are flirting with me and with my daughter, just because your mother is not here to see what you are up to.'
He was so sweet, so wonderful.
In the picture: Farooque Sheikh in Chashme Buddoor. Inset: Sai Paranjpye