First Person: On the rebound

Published October 9, 2011
Farooq Mengal – Photo by Mohammad Farooq
Farooq Mengal – Photo by Mohammad Farooq

With a healthy glow on his face and a spring in his step, Farooq Mengal can give the Energizer bunny a good run for his money.

Known for his temper as much as for being a tribal charmer, the one aspect of his personality that is often overlooked is his easygoing nature and the ability to forgive and forget. While sipping copious amounts of green tea and sharing stories of Baloch traditions, Mengal comes across as a man on the rebound.

The last few years have not mellowed his lust for life and on the professional front things are looking up too. After wrapping up two major projects, Paroo and Mah-i-Tamam, he is now fixated with the idea of making a commercial feature film.

“My plays have been very visual and film is but a natural progression. I have always done projects that are slightly offbeat. Long before the Baloch insurgency made headline in mainstream media, my play Seeli Baarish highlighted the plight of Balochistan and terrorism there.”

Then there was the tele film, Kuch Der Khizaan Mein, on the Afghan refugees in camps. “Some called it an exercise in futility but I see it as a duty to get their voices heard. Mah-i-Tamam and Paroo again highlight the issue of rape and domestic abuse,” he says, adding that his days at PTV gave him perspective to keep “glamour in check and focus more on content and reaching out to people.”

The last few years have not mellowed his lust for life and on the professional front things are looking up too.

After wrapping up two  major projects, Paroo and Mah-i-Tamam, he is now fixated with the idea of making a commercial feature film. “My plays have been very visual and film is a natural progression.” — Farooq MengalFor Mengal, controversy seems to be his second name. As he slowly edged his way back into the entertainment industry, along came a whirlwind romance with film actress-turned-TV host Noor and then a quick marriage to her. While people around them were still trying to digest the news, pat came the breakup with Noor screaming infidelity and blaming Sanam Baloch for the break up.

“Compassion is more dangerous than love,” he says, a seemingly sarky comment but minus the sarcastic tone. “I felt compassion for Noor at that point. She is a good, fun person to be with. She was going through a hard time and I have been through a hard patch too. So we took comfort in each other’s company and honoured that relationship,” he says.

“I had to cast Sanam Baloch for my play Paroo as the production house had a strict policy against spouses working on the same floor. I was being professional and did what I was supposed to do to do avoid conflict of interest. Baloch is a talented actress and my relationship with her was strictly professional. “I have never been the one to indulge in kiss and tell,” says Mengal, brushing aside rumors that he was cheating on his marriage with Noor.

“At the moment, I am focusing on making a feature film and that is what is making me work harder and harder. It increases the blood flow to my brain and gives me more energy to think straight.” But despite his busy work schedule and creative pursuits as well as harsh experiences, he does not rule out love and marriage. “It’s one of the best joys of life to be in love and an experience in itself. True that falling out of love is very hard and emotionally taxing but why look at the downside? Why not focus on the happiness it brings?”, he says, smiling like a hopeless love-struck teen.

On a health drive, he says that more than looking slim, it’s the “good that the endorphins are doing to my brain. The workout keeps me calm and gives me more energy to get through life.”

With his offer for another cup of green tea comes another round of witty one liners that could pretty much be A Rouge’s Guide to Living Life to the Fullest. Mengal says he won’t mind a guide book of that sort, “whatever helps anyone.”

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