Faryal – Interview
“…Believe me it isn’t a common experience having one’s bra opened by Shatrughan Sinha. It is a very, very different experience. He is simply fabulous… ” The mere recounting of her bedroom scenes with Shatrughan in “Heera” seemed to send Faryal into a fit of ecstasy.
We hoped he doesn’t overstep the limits of the script on such occasions.
“Shatru?” No. Premnath does. In ‘Gold Medal’ there is a scene of both of us lying on a sofa. But during the shot he rolled down on to the carpet taking me along with him! Believe me, that wasn’t in the script. Several minutes passed and still the shot was not getting over. Everyone including the director Ravi Nagaich and Jeetendra, was watching the fun and having a good laugh when I got up and shouted ‘Will someone say cut, bloody soon?’ Premnath was the least bothered himself: poor chap, he gets drowned in his roles. I am terrified to work with him. Though I know he is a tremendous artist.”
In the same film in another scene, he insisted on calling her a bastard. It was not in the script and she protested. He said he was not calling her a bastard, only the character in the film. “What is the use of arguing with a temperamental character like him?” Faryal asked.
There were other problems for a glamorous-looking girl like her. Once a heroine wanted her costume to be changed because Faryal was looking rather too attractive in it. The same actress protested about her wearing a see-through blouse under the pretext that it might not be okayed by the Censors. Faryal doesn’t want to give her name: they are friends now.
The heroines were always making sure that they got the better songs in a film, as Asha Parekh did in Heera. “I was to do that number originally.” If a heroine feels that you have outshone her in a scene by virtue of your ability or looks or whatever, she may even get the scene cut. Even a bit player like Sabina had trouble. She and Sharmila were both to appear in nighties for a scene in “Pyasi Shyam.” But when Sharmila saw her – “Sabina has it in plenty; you know what I mean”—she was not happy. Eventually Sabina had to wear a dressing gown and the “Begum’s” strict orders were that she should button it up right to her neck.
The role Faryal was supposed to do in “Nafrat” had gone to Bindu “thanks to Prem Chopra. A matter of continuity, you see. I do not have a continuity, that’s my disadvantage.” Asha Sachdev had replaced her in “Kashma Kash”—this time it was Shatrughan Sinha who had done it. But these things do not worry her, not any more. Today she has on hand some 18 films including “Door Nahin Manzil”, “Jheel Ke Us Paar” and “Jeevan Rekha.”
What bothers her though is her image: the image of a cabaret dancer or a vamp. Ever since Goldie cast her in that glamorous dancer’s role in “Jewel Thief,” film makers have looked upon her as an “excellent cabaret dancer”. “Whereas in reality I have never learnt dancing,” Faryal says. “I don’t even like dancing; I rather hate it”. At first afraid of being typecast, Faryal was reluctant to accept the numerous offers that she received soon after the release of “Jewel Thief”. But gradually she realised that if she refused the roles there were ten others ready to replace her. And now the bath tub scene in “Apradh” had given her an even worse image!
You have a sexy personality, we said. “So does Sharmila Tagore,” Faryal retorted. “It was a sexy role that she played in `Evening in Paris’, her first film. Sharmila was the first girl to appear on the cover of Filmfare in a bikini and that was the talk of the town for a long time. And yet after the release of `Aradhana’ people thought of her as the greatest choti bahu. What I want to say is that she did have the talent but nobody brought it out earlier.”
“What a wonderful performance Rehana Sultan has given in ‘Chetna’,” she remarked, “It was such a challenging role. Which heroine ever sat smoking so beautifully in front of the camera in our films? And yet hasn’t the image the role created gone against Rehana?”
Didn’t Faryal appear in a lead role opposite Shashi Kapoor in “Biradari”? But that was her first film; it was a flop and the role wasn’t much. Actually she had a better role, in “Pushpanjali”. She played Sanjay’s wife in it. But unfortunately the film was never released in Bombay.
“Look at Bindu,” she said, “She can easily be a heroine, she has everything a heroine can hope to have. But just because she is sexy she is being cast as a vamp. Can’t a sexy actress be a good actress? I think Bindu is a tremendous artiste. I would call her the Raquel Welch of Hindi films.”
If she is Raquel, you are Sophia Loren, we wanted, to say. But Faryal herself started talking of Sophia’s performance in “Two Women”. “And wasn’t she a glamorous actress before she appeared in that film? Yet what a wonderful performance she gave in it. The role brought her an Oscar. I would love to do a role like that.”
Born in Damascus of an Indian father and Arab mother, she was educated at the Loretto Convent, Simla, Cathedral High School and St. Xavier’s College, Bombay. Faryal worked for a while as an air hostess (Air India) before joining films. She is a product of the FilmaIaya School of Acting.
She volunteered the information that she was planning to get married and retire from films in about two years. She wouldn’t like to marry into films. She had seen so much of it. “I would not like to phone and be told that my husband is having a sitting because I know exactly what that sitting is.” Gulzar and Rajesh Khanna had done the correct thing in stopping their wives from working, she remarked. It was nonsense to say that you can be a devoted wife and an actress because you spend most of your time in some other man’s arms. However strong willed you may be you cannot remain faithful to your partner for long under such circumstances, she added (As told to G.K. in 1973).