Farida Jalal: The timeless sister, mother and now a nawab's grandmother

Farida Jalal is one such actor who has portrayed an array of characters in the space of the hero's sister, a mother, and now a grandmother.
Farida Jalal is one such actor who has portrayed an array of characters in the space of the hero's sister, a mother, and now a grandmother.

It’s quite rare for actors to grow up on screen, but Farida Jalal is one such actor who has portrayed an array of characters in the space of the hero’s sister, a mother, and now a grandmother.

While Hollywood has Leonardo DiCaprio, who started his career at the age of 17, India has Rishi Kapoor, Kamal Haasan, Sridevi, and Farida Jalal. All of their careers are textbooks in cinematic longevity.

Farida started her journey at 17 with the film ‘Taqdeer’, a role offered to her by Tarachand Barjatya, grandfather of Sooraj Barjatya. How she was offered her first role has a story of its own, something that rarely happens to artistes. She was a part of the United Film Producers Talent Hunt, which she went on to win, where her co-finalist happened to be the first superstar of Hindi cinema, Rajesh Khanna.

Tarachand was sitting in the audience while Kaka and Farida were being crowned the winners. It was at that moment that Tarachand offered her the role of Geeta in his film.

Farida went on to essay several characters in cinema, both mainstream and parallel films, but the first phase of her getting typecast started when she was offered the role of Dilip Kumar’s sister in ‘Gopi’.

The actress had earlier said in an interview that she jumped at the chance of essaying Dilip Kumar’s sister in the film because she simply loved the actor. What followed was a string of roles of the hero’s sister where she went on to work with the likes of Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Manoj Kumar, Sanjeev Kumar, and Amitabh Bachchan.

The actress changed gears and ventured into the space of playing motherly roles in the 1990s. Who could forget her terrific stint as an empathetic mother to Kajol in the landmark film of Hindi cinema, ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ followed by ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, ‘Bichhoo’ – the Indian ripoff of ‘Leon: The Professional’ in which she played the role of Jeeva’s mother and several others.

The actress has kept a good mix of cinema and television in her illustrious career. She has been a part of the iconic Indian sitcom ‘Dekh Bhai Dekh’, and the drama show ‘Balika Vadhu’.

Her latest work, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s OTT debut ‘Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar’, sees her essaying the role of Qudsia Begum, the grandmother to Taha Shah Badussha’s character of Tajdar, Nawab.

In the show, she essays the grandmother with a similar flair, brewing a heartwarming concoction of friendship and compassion with Tajdar.

Her career, spanning 57 years, is a testament to her brilliance and her prowess to become one with the character. Each of her performances is akin to salt, the one that you would dearly miss if it weren’t there and would change the palette in its absence.

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