With more than 200 films in her filmography, and numerous popular television shows, Farida Jalal has made a name for herself playing all types of roles. Her long career has seen her onscreen as a leading lady, a daughter, sister, mother and even grandmother.
Born in Delhi in 1949, it was a talent hunt contest organized by United Producers—the same one that ‘discovered’ Rajesh Khanna—that led to her entry into films. Winning in the female category, Farida signed up for and made her debut in the Rajshri production Taqdeer(1967). This was quickly followed by roles in Baharon ki Manzil (1968) and the blockbuster Aradhana (1969). Who does not remember a coy Farida, playing the leading role opposite the younger Rajesh Khanna, and lip syncing to Baghon mein bahaar hai?
The very next year Farida Jalal changed tracks and played sister to Dilip Kumar in Gopi (1970) – a decision that could have been questioned by many. In a ruthlessly competitive industry, very few actresses would have willingly made the decision to shift to supporting roles at such an early stage of their career. In an interview, Farida Jalal mentioned that she was thrilled to have been given this opportunity to work with Dilip Kumar, and not for once did she regret this decision. Not only did she learn a lot from her legendary co-star, she also had a successful stint that was professionally rewarding.
She was soon the popular choice to play the hero’s sister in the 1970s, working with all the major heroes of the day, including Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna and Sanjeev Kumar. Playing Sanjeev Kumar’s sister in Paras (1971), Farida walked away with recognition and also awards. Considering she had greater scope to demonstrate her acting chops in the film than the heroine, Farida Jalal was clear about the future path of her career. This was followed by noteworthy performances in films like Majboor (1974), Shaque (1976). In the era of multi-starrers, often starring Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor, Jeetendra and Dharmendra, opposite heroines like Hema Malini, Parveen Babi and Zeenat Aman, Farida Jalal decided to be careful about choosing her roles.
This was also when Farida Jalal got married to Tabrez Barmavar, an actor whom she had met during one of her movies and shifted to Bangalore. A ten-year sabbatical followed while she focused on bringing up her son. In 1991, she made a spectacular comeback with the R.K. production Henna.
The 1990s were a glorious period in Farida Jalal’s career, studded with hit movies like Gardish (1992), Mammo (1994), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Raja Hindustani(1996), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai (2000) and Zubeidaa (2001). Her television appearances include serials such as Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi (1984), Dekh Bhai Dekh (1993), Junoon (1993), Jeannie aur Juju (2013) and Shararat (2003).
While she may not have played the heroine very often, Farida Jalal has made a mark in the film and television industries, and continues to be remembered for her remarkable prowess as a character actress.