From the crew of our melodramatic actors, Farooque Sheikh comes out heavily on stereotyping in Indian Cinema. “The sardar will always be a soldier or shown eating Parathas, the christian girl will always be wearing Skirts and dancing, the muslim household will ‘adab’ each other ‘300’ times in a film.” So true, and we all accept it so gladly. Actors like Farooque Sheikh are hardly interviewed and when they are, its probably to fill up a one odd page in the magazine or somewhere in the backpages of the newspaper. Look at those words closely when that happens and you will notice frustration and restlessness coming out.
It is a pity, we have actors like Farooque Sheikh, Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapoor and Om Puri but we do not have the directors to handle them. But come to think of Shekhar Kapur, Shyam Benegal- maybe we do. But where is the cinema that does justice to them? And if it exists, these movies are overshadowed by the Khan Starers or one of those ‘commercial line’ ones. Since “serious cinema” does not make money they don’t last for more than a week in the theatres- if at all they are lucky enough to reach the theatres that is.
Our audience is so much overwhelmed with movies from the Karan Johars, Yash Chopras and David Dhawans that this brand of cinema goes literally unnoticed. The FilmFares keep awarding one of those movies year after year, one of the Khans gets the best actor for a role he could “sleepwalk” in, one leading lady, so to say, gets into the best actress groove for her matkas and jhatkas and playing a love interest to a hero in a movie that could have done without her in the first place.
And I wonder, how the media has gone away from the common man. This has been a trend. First the newspapers and now the movies portray the rich. All characters live in a bungalow, drive Porsche and wear Armanis. Not like yesterdays Amol Palekars and Farooque Sheikhs who portrayed the common man, eating peanuts while walking near Marine Drive, sipping coffee in the coffee house and deriving the simple pleasures life has to offer. Basically- you cannot even live a part of the life of the hero in a bollywood movie today. That’s a fantasy world, in no way connected to you, supposed to be shunned off the moment you come out of the theatre.
So where do actors like Sheikh, Pankaj Kapur and Om Puri go? Hosting television shows, acting in comedy soaps that could be anyone’s take and working in masala movies, respectively, to earn their rozi roti.