This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Lata Jha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Unglamorous And Unsung, But Farooq Sheikh Leaves A Void That”s Impossible To Fill

More from Lata Jha

By Lata Jha:

Every so often, when one watches a film nowadays, one has to make an effort to like the performances. It’s a strain, and sometimes a struggle. After all, you’ve paid some 300 bucks to be sitting in that dark, air conditioned room. There is so much that makes no sense, and so many people out there who are either outrageously indifferent or so over-the-top that you’d want to curse yourself for existing.

It’s sad that Indian celluloid has to give space to such undeserving faces today. But long ago, when the baton was in different hands, movie viewing was quite a pleasure. It’s ironic that you will derive great happiness out of some of the oldest, dustiest, most low quality DVDs the guy at the store will probably take days to hunt for. These DVDs will be able to take you back to the era when actors like Farooq Sheikh gave flesh, blood, life and soul to characters that could very well, have been you or me.

Farooq Sheikh

The aam aadmi may have garnered the spotlight today, but Sheikh became the face of the common man at a time when angry, young, macho men and lover boys in knitted sweaters ruled the roost. When revenge was the calling, females were relegated to showpieces and painful sounds blared in the garb of music, he brought a slice of life to his films and performances and carried forward the legacy of alternative, arthouse cinema that had begun in the 70s.

His first on screen performance was in M.S Sathyu’s Garam Hawa (1973), considered a milestone in its genre for its storytelling, performances and impact. He went to make a mark with Noorie (1979) and came into his own with Chashme Buddoor (1981), Saath Saath (1982), Rang Birangi (1983), Bazaar (1982) and Umrao Jaan (1981).

He had been performing the immortal play, Tumhari Amrita with Shabana Azmi, directed by Feroz Abbas Khan for 21 years. After their last performance at the Taj Mahal on the 13th of this month, when Azmi suggested they call it a day, he apparently said he could go on for another 21 years.

One remembers him last as the endearing father in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani (2013)and the bureaucrat in Shanghai (2012). His last film, Club 60, (2013) an amazing, unnoticed little piece of work that deserved a lot better was released earlier this month. Dependable was probably the one word for him. He could be the brooding, intense nawab in Umrao Jaan or the middle class father in Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, but he was just as convincing. Farooq Sheikh was incapable of giving a bad or half-hearted performance.

One recalls him in a screechy, hammy, ridiculous film called Mohabbat where he played older brother to Madhuri Dixit who loses the guy she loves, and didn’t have much to contribute to the narrative. But thankless roles were never a deterrent for Sheikh. One can only say that not for a nanosecond could you make out that his concern for the girl was put on. It was like his heart went out to her, and yours to him, in turn.

On a bit of a personal note, I can add that my generation pretty much grew up on his television shows, Chamatkar on Sony, Ji Mantrij on Star Plus and of course, the delightful Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai on Zee TV, whose reruns one can watch even today. For an actor of his stature, it is remarkable how comfortable he made the celebrity guests on that show, how genuinely interested he seemed in their life and career and how dextrously and effortlessly, he glided through their darkest, toughest phases, making an entire episode complete and fruitful. Aspiring journalists should certainly watch this show on how to make sure one person talking about himself doesn’t seem like a drag.

There is no doubt Farooq saab was a legend, one of our finest, most unassuming and unsung heroes. He apparently had once regretted not being commercially saleable. But I don’t see why he should have. He’s carved a bigger space in the hearts of movie lovers like us than any actor who churns out 100 crore hits.

But what is truly sad is how indifferent we are to the unglamorous entities of our industry. The more passionate among us might rent old DVDs or watch out for them in the miniscule roles they do. But do we realise how tough it is for them? Sheikh apparently never owned a house or a car in his life. After his death in Dubai, his wife and two daughters went through hell trying to get the body back to India. For someone who managed to make us smile, laugh and cry, and sometimes, all of it together, didn’t he deserve better?

A Farooq Sheikh doesn’t happen too often. He certainly won’t happen to the screen anytime soon. But let’s just hope actors of his calibre leave us, when they have to, a little better.

You must be to comment.
  1. Namita singh

    when i read the name of the article, i, for some reason knew, it was by Lata Jha.

    Thank you, for writing this. Not enough has been written about him. there were no streams of breaking news, no ‘specials’ to even give him a farewell he deserved.

    1. Lata Jha

      It was absolutely my pleasure, Namita. Thank you for reading. 🙂

  2. anubha

    loved your article…artist of his stature should be celebrated more often …the kind of honesty he exuded is inspiring !!

    1. Lata Jha

      Absolutely.
      Thank you so much. 🙂

  3. Shaivi Sharma

    Very well written. In fact I didn't know that despite being an actor of his stature, his family had to go through a tough time after his demise. You said it v apt A Farooq Sheikh doesn't happen too often. Sharing a post I did when I learnt of his demisehttp://shaivikafunda.blogspot.in/2013/12/farooq-sheikh-gem-in-crown-of-indian.html

  4. Deepika Srivastava

    This is a beautiful article.
    I loved his body of work. Not sure how many know about a movie called “Listen Amaya”, a fantastic piece of work by Farooq Sheikh and Deepti Naval. He truely was an artist.
    Thanks for this article.

More from Lata Jha

Similar Posts

By Atypical Advantage

By Ritwik Trivedi

By Ecochirp Foundation

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below