Deepti Naval remembers her favourite co-star

On Saturday morning, Deepti Naval woke up to the rude shock of hearing that her favourite co-star Farooq Sheikh was no more.

Stifling her sobs, Deepti says, “I spoke to Shabana in the morning. We were both simply howling on the phone. My last interaction with Farooq was two months ago at the Sharjah Book Fair. I was invited to read from my books and he was in conversation with me. He was a voracious reader. I woke up to say, ‘what a beautiful morning’! And then a friend called and put the phone to the television where I hear Farooq is no more. What do I say? He was not just a constant part of my career, but also of my life. Oh God! It’s so hard to believe he’s gone. We worked together for the first time in Chashme Buddoor and we did 7-8 films together after that. Of these, my favourite films are Chashme Buddoor, Saath Saath and Listen…Amaya.”

Deepti remembers Chashme Buddoor with special fondness. “Sai Paranjpye, me, Rakesh Bedi, Ravi Baswani, Saeed Jaffrey….what a team it was! We made a film that just happened. We were all having so much fun while making it. On a flight, I saw the Chashme Buddoor remake. It did nothing to me. It had no impact. Watching the remake, I missed the original team even more. Now Ravi Baswani is gone, Farooq gone. We also did Sai’s Katha together where Farooq played this incorrigible flirt. I used to tease him that in Katha he played his real self. Farooq was a big flirt. I asked him when we got together for Listen …Amaya why he didn’t flirt with me. When I look back at our films together, I find he was very cute and charming. And what a good-looker. But with me, he had a different rapport. He would always tease me. And he would crack jokes at my expense. Even if I was passing by on the sets, he would stop mid-conversation and make a joke about me. I used to get really pissed off. “Why do you have to drag me into your conversations?’ I’d say. He’d tease me even more.”

Deepti breaks down as she says, “When we worked together again in Listen….Amaya after 26 years, he was still pulling my leg. I said, ‘Ab toh sudharjao.’ He was adorable, he never changed. The only change I saw in him during Listen…Amaya was that he would not sit with the rest of the unit after a shot. He would go back to his book. He was always reading. He was never seen without a book in his hand.”

Deepti had plans of working with Farooq all over again. “He had read three of my scripts. He kept prodding me to make those films. After doing Listen…Amaya together, we realized how much we missed one another. We wanted to do a play together. We wanted to do so much much. Now we can never work together again. I just want to be with Farooq’s wife Roopa and his daughters. I am here in Himachal far away from Mumbai. I am trying to take a taxi to Chandigarh and then take a flight from Delhi to Mumbai.”

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