“I have one problem, dullness bores me,” said Atika Farooqui, a master of many trades. Atika started her career as an entertainment journalist with channels such as Star News, News 24, Bhaskar News, and News 24, to become a leading anchor, creative director of Rishtey Cineplex, film critic, poet, and actor. She was recently seen in the anthology Ray, in “Hungama Kyu Hai Barpa” with Manoj Bajpayee.
On the occasion of Hindi Divas, CitySpidey had the honour to talk to Ms Atika about her roots, experiences in TV industry, and the role of literature in her life.
Atika said the atmosphere of her home was such that they were motivated to try various things. Her father inspired her to have an experience of sports, arts, culture and literature. “We started attending a lot of poet meets, mushairas, and kavi sammelans, when we were just kids.” Later, when she came to IIMC in post-grad, she performed several plays before coming to Mumbai.
Atika says an inherent reason behind her success as a presenter were couplets, anecdotes, and poetry that she used at the beginning of the show, which appealed to the audience immensely. “In a way, I was always performing,” said Atika.
Atika, with her eloquence and nazakat, love for old places, and fondness for Chickankari is a true Lucknowite. Retracing her Awadhi roots, Atika shared that her entire extended family lives in the sprawling historical areas of Lucknow in Jopling Road, Chowk, Nakhas while she herself studied in Isabella Thoburn College.
Atika shared that it is the fusion of Urdu with Christian culture in Lucknow and its inclusiveness that makes Lucknow special. “The passion with which a pandit would recite Ghalib in Lucknow can startle anyone, that’s the uniqueness of the city.” Atika playfully shares a local where a man asks another about his caste who smilingly replied, “Awadh.”
While talking about literature and poetry, Atika says that everyone should read good literature, no matter which language. “I strongly believe that literature has had a role in the lives of people who have achieved big in life,” she said.
She terms couplets as morale boosters, that can uplift us when we are at our lowest. Remembering her days while she was preparing for MBA, she looked at poetries of Bashir Badr and Rahat Indori. One of them being: “ham bhī dariyā haiñ hameñ apnā hunar mālūm hai, jis taraf bhī chal paḌeñge rāsta ho jā.egā.”
“We are oceans in ourselves,
whichever way we move, we will find a way.”
Atika who also reviews films for CNN-News18, said in technical parlance, “To review a film does not mean criticising the production but appreciating the good and bad parts of the film. As an artist, I understand the time and effort that goes behind any production. I am not a harsh critic.”
On the portrayal of women in Bollywood. She said that while growing up, movies like Damini and Tejaswini played a huge role in her life. These stories were about ordinary women who challenged the system with their bravery and will. She added that OTT platforms have liberated us from the popular stereotypes of Bollywood which were used for strictly marketing purposes. Better roles are being written for women and that is the way it should be.
In her long and successful TV career, Atika has shared the screen with the biggest names in Bollywood and has learned something from everyone. Remembering her first encounter with Dilip Kumar.
At the very beginning of her career, Atika had gone to him to talk about one of his films. He was sitting in the living room while she was at a distance. Yousuf Saab recited a sher by Ghalib. when she replied something that was in answer to that. “He heard me and said, kaun hai wahan?” He asked her about her education and profession. Thus, started an amicable relationship between her, Saira Bano and Dilip Kumar.
In a quick span, Atika has transformed herself into many roles. As people, we must try to rediscover ourselves through learning, culture and literature. She believes in Pash's words when he says:
सबसे ख़तरनाक होता है मुर्दा शांति से भर जाना
तड़प का न होना
सब कुछ सहन कर जाना
घर से निकलना काम पर
और काम से लौटकर घर आना
सबसे ख़तरनाक होता है
हमारे सपनों का मर जाना