September 16, 2011 3:40:28 am
Easy camaraderie and banter remain unchanged as Deepti Naval and Farooque Shaikh,one of the most loved pairs of the 80s,return as an on-screen couple after 25 years
Ask Farooque Shaikh what his first reaction was when he was offered a film opposite Deepti Naval,after almost 25 years,and his instant response is,I exclaimed Oh my God and jumped out of my chair in fright. On hearing this,Naval cannot hold back her laughter. She tells us,If you want Farooque to say good things about me,you have to interview him when I am not around.
It is this camaraderie and friendly banter that made their films Chashme Buddoor (1981),Saath Saath (1982),Katha (1983),Kisise Na Kehna (1983),Ek Baar Chale Aao (1983) and Rang Birangi (1983) immensely popular. Today,as they are all set to mark their comeback with Hema Malinis Tell Me Oh Khuda and next year with Avinash Singhs Listen Amaya,both are hopeful of striking a chord with the audience,yet again.
The opportunity of working with Shaikh was what convinced Naval to take up the role of Esha Deols mother in Tell Me Oh Khuda. The role isnt very powerful. I play a regular on-screen mother but Hema Maliniji told me that she wanted to recreate the nostalgia of the Deepti-Farooque team and that is what excited me, she says. Shaikh,too,cites similar reasons for doing the film. He signed it because of the credibility Hema Malini brings to the fraternity and the rapport he shares with Naval.
The news of Shaikh and Naval,now 63 and 54 respectively,coming back together brought in more offers. Soon,Singh approached them with a script where the duo will play lead actors. We have just completed a schedule in Delhi. Right now,we are in the process of filming it, says Naval,who refuses to divulge too many details about the film.
The duo first met at Mumbais Doordarshan office in the late 1970s,where they were supposed to anchor a talk show segment together. It was just a one-off assignment,after which we got chatting for a bit, says Naval. Soon after,they were offered Ek Baar Phir (1980). That did not materialise because Shaikh had already allotted the same dates to Noorie. In fact,Farooque was the one who recommended my name to director Vinod Pande. Then he couldnt adjust his dates, smiles Naval.
In a light vein,Shaikh recounts how they finally worked together. I wasnt saved from Deepti for long. Sai Paranjape came to me with the script of Chashme Buddoor. Sai had already decided that Deepti and I would play the lead roles.
The success of Chashme Buddoor was something that both Shaikh and Naval hadnt imagined. There was this euphoria around us. The characters of Neha and Siddharth werent larger-than-life and people of that generation identified with us, says Naval. The movies success meant more films for the lead pair. They followed this up with Katha,where Shaikh played an anti-hero. People had seen me as the nice guy in Chashme Buddoor. I did not want our pairing to be in the safe zone. Hence,I decided to play the crook, says the veteran actor.
After a series of light-hearted films,both of them moved to the second phase of their career. With Kamla (1984) and Ankahee (1985),I moved on to do more intense roles. I also did a lot of writing in my spare time. I became extemely choosy about films, says Naval. Shaikh says,I was more lazy than choosy. I refused to work with people I did not like. After a while,Shaikh made the transition to television. I enjoyed working for a chat show and serials like Chamatkar,which helped me stay with the times.
Though the two of them almost always managed to garner good reviews and appreciation for their performances,they never quite made it to the top league of actors. More than two decades later,they dont seem to mind that. Neither of us was like,let us have a bungalow or an expensive car. We were happy doing films in which we were comfortable, says Shaikh. And that remains the same to this day, seconds Naval.
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