Farooq Sheikh: Parallel cinema's blue eyed boy

Farooq SheikhFarooq Sheikh is survived by wife Rupa and daughters Shaista and Sanaa.

With his boy-next-door persona and understated style, Farooq Sheikh made his entry into films at a time when the parallel art cinema was making its presence felt and he went on to work in some of the best movies of that era.

Sheikh passed away in Dubai late last night after a heart attack. He is survived by wife Rupa and daughters Shaista and Sanaa.

As someone who trained as a lawyer, Sheikh came to acting after failing to relate to his profession in law. Theatre was something that he was already doing in college.

Sheikh made an impressive debut with MS Sathyu's 'Garm Hawa', one of the greatest movies ever made on Partition. He often joked that he did the film for a princely sum of rupees 750.

He played the youngest son of Balraj Sahni in the movie that depicted the dilemma of a Muslim businessman who decides to stay in India even though the political -social climate is not very supportive and half of his family has already moved to Pakistan.

Sheikh was born into a 'zamindar' family near Baroda in 1948. He was the eldest son of his lawyer father Mustafa Shaikh. The family moved to the then Bombay as his father had a successful practice, which in part, prompted Sheikh to take up law initially.

He met his wife Rupa during his college. They were very active in theatre during their college days.

Sheikh's performance in 'Garm Hawa' attracted the attention of Satyajit Ray. Ray cast Sheikh in the role of Aqeel in 'Shatranj Ke Khiladi'.

The actor along with Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Om Puri, Naseeruddin and Deepti Naval was instrumental in keeping the parallel cinema movement alive in the '70s and '80s.

His most notable films of that era include Ray's 'Shatranj Ke Khiladi', 'Noorie', 'Chashme Buddoor', 'Kissi Se Na Kehna', 'Katha', 'Umrao Jaan', 'Faasle' and Sagar Sarhadi's 'Bazaar'.

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