One look at Farooq and you can sense the intensity around this boy. No wonder Mohan told me the very first day after he picked his team that there is this guy who fits Mikey's character to the T. You can see him loping around with a feline grace in the ground, often by himself and not with the rest of the other boys who play around like regular kids and then, when you know of what Mikey has gone through in his life, you understand. I always find him seeking me out when I enter the field, catching me, often at moments when I am alone, and asking me existential questions like - Sir, are you happy with your life?
|At the nets in Don Bosco after a long session|
Farooq says he does not know his real name. He ran away from his home in Hyderabad, someplace in Dilsukhnagar, when he was very young (because his mother scolded him) and he does not remember how young he was when he ran away with his younger brother. Somehow he remembers going to the Madarsa at Barkas where they said his name must be changed to Farooq (from Fardeen which was given to him at some other home and sounded like a movie star's). It's all a bit confusing there but enough to know that he took his younger brother along, cared for him, went hungry, looked for shelter, washed cars at hotels, stayed on railway stations, survived the bad stations of Vijayawada, Warangal, joined gangs, was gang leader until he got tired and hungry and joined the Don Bosco school in Secunderabad. 'Sir, the blade gangs of Vijayawada are dangerous sir,' he says matter of factly.
His brother Feroze liked it there in Don Bosco, the security and the food and games (caroms specially) and he settled down, while Farooq had a couple more dalliances, running off here and there before coming back. One of the Fathers at Don Bosco noticed Farooq's inclination for acting, for cricket, for dancing, for mimicry etc and put him in the dance troupe. Farooq is one of those guys who can use his natural intelligence to be good at whatever he does. Even his cricket is not so much good at technique or style, it's just his natural survival instinct at play, and you know he will pull it off when you most need him. Anyway, he started performing, doing stage shows for his Boys Town troupe, playing Inter-school cricket (was made captain too). Of course he was not trained to do anything and learnt everything by himself. To date he thinks he might have done some 1800 shows.
He recalls with pride his Assistant Director Kiran calling him to choreograph something for Kedi with Nagarjuna and Nagarjuna patting him on his back and telling him he liked what Farooq did. He would like to become an actor in the future certainly, but as someone who has seen the hardships of life, does not build his dreams in air. 'I would like to study and do my MBA. Studies are forever,' he says. 'I would also like to start an institute before I go full fledged into acting so there is some steady cash flow.' Supremely confident about what he does, Farooq, admires Amitabh, Kamalahasan, Soundarya and Kajol. He loves playing games, the natural athlete that he is, with cricket, kho kho being his favourite games.
Farooq is fantastic to watch at the sets. He does his stuff quietly. For example, when all the junior artiste kids try to get in and bat and bowl while we practice, we shoo them away so they don't crowd around and disturb everybody else. Farooq understands that it is a big thing for them to hold the ball and the bat and quietly, when no one is around, bowls a few balls to them or makes them bat a few balls, a little distance away. He lopes around by himself, generally observing, thinking, improvising. When he faced Srikkanth Raju, Imran and Pervez in the friendly match, some of the fastest and most dangerous bowlers in the city and handled them extremely well, I knew he'd pull off anything with that survivor's bent of mind. And he played well mind you, cutting them, pulling and driving, on the merit of the ball. His acting is as fluid as his playing or the way he lives his life - with compassion, passion and awareness. Gautam aka Santosh says 'I am big fan of Mikey's sir. You should have seen that cafe scene. It was mind blowing.' I surely would like to see that on screen. His scene when he gets up after being felled by a bouncer made my hair stand on the edge - all aggression, defiance, all Mikey.
Undoubtedly a character no one will forget, possibly an inspiration to many, Farooq is a real life hero. I like him immensely as a person, love talking to him and definitely would queue up to watch him perform.
Good luck Farooq and here's to your success in advance.