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2017 seems to have begun on a sorrowful note for the Indian film Industry as the country lost an outstanding actor, Om Puri. His sudden and shocking demise has still not sunk in for any of us. The Padma Shri recipient who was considered one of the doyens of parallel cinema was revered for his ability to delve deeper into the psyche of a character and then bring out the shades of emotional vulnerability of that character in the most empathizing manner. In the words of Nihalani, “He would understand the emotional quotient of a character in that moment without ever intellectualizing or analyzing”.
The legendary actor who has wowed the audience both in Bollywood and Hollywood had a turbulent personal life. Although his personal life has hogged the limelight for all the wrong reasons and formed a chunk of the gossip columns, it is his colossal stature as an actor that evokes respect and awe for him. Om Puri an alumnus of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII, Pune) was roped in for a documentary by Govind Nihalani along with fellow alumnus Naseeruddin Shah in the late sixties – early seventies. This was also a period in Hindi Cinema where the language of Art house Cinema and mainstream commercial cinema often fused into one and Om Puri is the luminous example of being part of this historical moment in Hindi Cinema. The stalwart actor who has bestowed movie lovers with indelible performances had teamed up with director Govind Nihalani on prodigious movies namely Ardh Satya (1983), Aaghat (1985) and Tamas (teleserial, 1987) amongst others.
However, the versatility of the actor was not tapped to its fullest by the mainstream commercial cinema that reduced the actor as a loud, whimsical character who was largely used for comic relief. Despite this love-hate relationship with mainstream cinema the veteran actor gracefully displayed the canvas of his talent, especially mesmerizing the viewers with his ability to tickle their funny bones like a pro. There was a phase where he had to struggle because of his looks. His de-glamorous image could never coronate him the crown that he rightfully deserves. However as they say, “Real talent shines through regardless of how many others there are around you”, Om Puri stood the test of time and his glorious talent incandescently made a mark as he went on to give one remarkable performance after another.
Apart from earning accolades as an actor he was also praised for his work ethics. He was a thorough professional who respected the script and the vision of the director. Not just that, he never tried to steal the thunder of his co-stars by suggesting changes in any scene or tweaked with the dialogues to garner all the attention towards him.
Insiders who knew the actor from close quarters lamented that the choice of his bad films was due to financial reasons.
Movies that Immortalized the performance of the actor:
Aakrosh (1980) alongside Naseeruddin Shah and Smita Patil.
Aarohan (1982) alongside Victor Banerjee and directed by Shyam Benegal.
Ardh Satya (1983)alongside Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah and Amrish Puri (1983) which was a cop-drama directed by Govind Nihalani.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983) alongside Pankaj Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Satish Shah, Bhakti Barve and Satish Kaushik.
Mirch Masala (1987) alongside Smita Patil and Naseeruddin Shah.
My son the fanatic (1997) a British drama where he essayed the role of a taxi driver.
East is East (1999) alongside Linda Bassett and Chris Bisson.
Hera Pheri (2000) alongside Paresh Rawal, Sunil Shetty, Akshay Kumar and Tabu.
Maqbool (2004) alongside Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Kapoor, Irrfan Khan and Tabu.
The Hundred-foot Journey (2014) alongside Helen Mirren and Manish Dayal.
Best actor in a supporting role (Male) for Aakrosh (1980).
Best Actor National Film Awards for Aarohan.
National Film Awards for Ardh Satya.
Order of the British Empire
Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award
We at soulbyweekly mourn the untimely death of the veteran actor and offer condolences to his family and friends.
(Based on reports in TOI and Firstpost)
Picture source: http://www.newsonlinelive.tv, http://s3.india.com, http://www.outlookindia.com
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