Washington film festival opens with tribute to Farooque Shaikh

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 11 September 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Almost nine months after his passing, Farooque Shaikh is keenly missed by friends and acquaintances at home and overseas.

On Friday, the DC South Asian Film Festival (DCSAFF) in Washington, US, will open with a tribute to the actor by screening 'Club 60', which was his last film to be released during his lifetime.

Shaikh had visited the previous edition of the festival in 2013 for a screening of 'Listen Amaya', his last picture with Deepti Naval.

It was Naval who introduced Shaikh to Manoj and Geeta Singh, the organisers of DCSAFF in 2012. "Deepti came to our first film festival where we screened her film 'Do Paise ki Dhoop, Char Aane ki Baarish'. In 2013 we screened Farooque Bhai's film 'Listen Amaya' and he along with director Avinash Singh represented the movie," says Manoj.

Shaikh Sahab also hosted a ghazal soiree in memory of Jagjit Singh. He spoke for 45 minutes and talked highly about the singer's contribution to the ghazal. Jagjit Singh's first major success was 'Saath Saath' with Shaikh, who lent credibility and charm to songs like 'Tumko dekha toh yeh khayal aaya', 'Pyar mujhse jo kiya tumne', 'Yeh tera ghar yeh mera ghar' and 'Yeh bata de mujhe zindagi'.

Unlike celebrities who inundate their foreign hosts with specific demands about food, boarding and lodging, transportation and sundry extras and luxuries down to the kind of flowers to be placed in their room, Shaikh Sahab made no requirements. "The only thing he requested us was to provide him a first class airline ticket. Once he arrived in DC he was a very humble and friendly person. He did not have any special demands," says Geeta.

"He was with us for four days during the festival and we became good friends. He said how important it is for the present and next generation to speak and write correct, culturally rich Urdu, Hindi, and English," says Manoj.

Shaikh who had a flawless command over language often made this point at public appearances as well as press interviews. "He said that with the growing use of text messaging and the prevalence of slang, we stand to lose the richness of our vocabulary, indeed our culture," Manoj recalls.

The actor also requested the audience to support independent films and film makers. It is alright to make and watch entertainment cinema, but it is equally important to make and watch cinema which deal with important issues in society, he had said.

Despite the modern era of high tech gadgets Shaikh had no use for computers or email. He managed a busy calendar of national and international trips by phone call and text messaging. "He was not tech savvy, but he would communicate via text messaging, and his message always started with 'Adaab'," Geeta says.

Film, television and theatrical units down the decades have testified to Shaikh's kind and courteous interaction with the entire team of organisers, not just prominent artistes but humble errand boys as well. The team of DCSAFF also remembers how "Farooque Bhai" was very friendly with all of its volunteers. He had no airs about him and talked with everybody respectfully.

His single trip earned the organisers a long association they will always cherish. Manoj says, "He would text message us very often, wishing us on festivals. He mailed us 'Club 60' to critique when it was in post production, which was very humbling for us. That is why we decided that we will make 'Club 60'as our Opening Night Film. Farooque Bhai sent us a text message during Christmas wishing us happy holidays two or three days before he passed away. I was in India and I remember my wife called me to inform about his demise, I could not believe it. I was planning to meet him in Mumbai after he came back from Dubai. He wanted to help us with next film festival."

The DCSAFF web site has a prominent pictorial dedication to the actor. September 28 marks nine months since Shaikh Sahab passed away in Dubai.

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