By Atika Farooqui.
“I HAVE been lucky enough to interview great cinematic luminaries for television. Here is my top 10, but there are many more who have left me with great memories including Manisha Koirala, Jackie Shroff, Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Shilpa Shetty, Dwayne Bravo,
and my favourite actor Irrfan Khan, who makes a conversation an informative lesson about life,” said Atika Farooqui.
Aamir Khan: He has a unique cinematic mind, so is fascinating to converse with. He had the courage to be the first filmmaker whose lead heroine was a burqaclad minor in Secret Superstar and it was great to speak with him about the revolutionary film. With that regard I must also mention Zaira Wasim, who became a super achiever with Dangal and Secret Superstar. I had a fun conversation with Zaira and it’s a chat show she still remembers.
Dilip Kumar: I have interviewed him at least 10 times in my 15-year TV career. We’ve spoken about Madhubala ji, Mughal-e-Azam, Naya Daur being coloured and many more topics. I’m yet to find a man more dignified than him. He stuck to his stand of doing meaningful cinema and one film at a time. He loved my original poetry and insisted on listening to my poems every time.
Kamal Haasan: I shot my chat show with him at 11pm and still at the age of 63 he was alert, happy, welcoming and energetic. Like all senior artists, he liked good language and detailed research. He spoke eloquently about diverse subjects including aspects of his career less explored.
Javed Akhtar: He is the man who can change the way we think with revolutionary
ideas backed by reason and facts. Mr Javed Akhtar and I faced a live audience of 5,000, including high-profile people. I explored various facets of love with him including age disparity between couples, stigma around divorce, writers being obsessed with women’s beauty alone, various stereotypes and more. He had an explanation for them all.
Diljit Dosanjh: I have a special corner in my heart for those who were written off before they even started their journey. This young boy with a turban shines bright in a world where heroes are expected to look a certain way. We should be proud of the way we dress and look, and this man sets an example.
Gurdas Maan: I value people who come with a whole lot of experiences in life, good and bad. This man lost it all when he started his journey, but still rose to the top. There is so much to learn from great legends like him. I grew up watching his songs, but was now shooting my chat show with him and then sharing a meal together, which reinstated my faith in the word called humility.
Rajkumar Hirani: We all see the money his films make and the emotional chord he touches with his cinema. I wanted to dig deeper. He was born to a poetess mother and a middle class father with a strong survival instinct. He would not compromise his family viewership for cheap thrills in his films and I really respect that. Unlike the famous directors, he wears simple clothes and has an easy air. After I sent him my review of Sanju, he messaged me saying that it was the best summary of his work.
Sridevi: Just before we shot for this chat show, she made many changes in the lighting set-up. Having worked for decades in the film industry, she not only knew her own craft but also the crew’s work. Such was this master of Hindi cinema. She passed away too soon and our chat show was one of her last shoots.
Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma: I started this joint interview with a couplet by Parveen Shakir and both were visibly happy. Every artist loves good poetry, good conversation and a good perspective. This was the key to this interview that started trending on YouTube instantly. Oh yes, Anushka Sharma said she had watched me anchor Saas Bahu Aur Saazish on Star News when she was in school (a show I launched in 2004).
That indeed made me feel old.
Shah Rukh Khan: This man never falls short of expectations. Every time I have shot with him, I learnt something new. He speaks so well on every subject and always teaches you an important life lesson in the process. I have always taken something away from his interviews and others I have been fortunate enough to meet.
- Atika Farooqui has been a prominent personality on Indian television for 15 years on channels including Star News, IBN7, E24/News24, News Nation, Bhaskar News and now Colors – Rishtey Cineplex. She interviews the biggest celebrities, reviews films weekly and is a poetess. Catch her on Colors HD, Rishtey Cineplex and Cineplex HD and on the social media of Colors and Rishtey Cineplex, including on YouTube.