An actor who made us all laugh and cry with his varied roles in various movies, Om Puri, has passed away due to a massive heart attack today in the morning. Indian Cinema will take a lot of time to get over the loss of this veteran actor.
While he has acted in countless movies, he is best known for his performance in Ardha Satya and Arohan for which he won National Awards. He also appeared in several Hollywood films like Gandhi, City of Joy and East is East to name a few. Here are a few lesser known facts about his personal and professional life:
Om Rajesh Puri hailed from Ambala, Haryana and belonged to an underprivileged family. As a kid, he was forced to bring coal from rail tracks and work in a Dhaba to support his family. His father worked in the Indian Army and hence Om Puri also wanted to become a soldier but eventually ended up in Film and Television Institute of India as he found himself interested in the field of arts.
Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah entered the industry in the same year. Both of them have shared the screen in plenty of movies such as Aakrosh, Mandi, Sparsh, Jaane Bhi Do yaaro, Mirch Masala, China Gate, Hey Ram, Maqbool, etc. to name some. Before entering in NSD (National School of Drama), Om Puri was a strict vegetarian. But as time passed and their friendship grew stronger, Naseeruddin and Om shared everything including their food cultures, and Om Puri started eating non-veg too.
He debuted in the film industry with a Marathi movie named ‘Ghashiram Kotwal’ in the year 1976. The movie was based on a legendary Marathi play of the same name.
He got his first Bollywood break in 1989 film Aakrosh which was directed by Govind Nihalani. He played a Tribal victim who has killed his wife. He bagged many Filmfare Awards and National Award for Best Actor. He also got National Award for his role as a police inspector in Ardha Satya. He has worked in several Punjabi, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada movies too.
Om Rajesh Puri, commonly known as Om Puri was one of the very first Indian actors who started acting in American and British films. His first English movie was Oscar-winning ‘Gandhi’. Though he had barely one and a half minute’s cameo, it changed his life. Later he acted in the ‘City of Joy’ against Patrick Swayze. He appeared as General Zia-Ul-Haq in ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ starring Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks. He was also seen in 2014 American Comedy-Drama, The Hundred-Foot Journey which was his last feature film with Hollywood.
He is known in the United Kingdom for his appearance in British movies like East is East and My Son the Fanatic. For his valuable contribution to British Cinema, he also received an honorary Order of British Empire (OBE).
Apart from movies, Om Puri has also worked in several TV serials such as The Jewel in the Crown, Kakaji Kahin and Second Generation. He has also lent voice to several ads and animated series like Krishna and Kans and Mowgli.
Om Puri got married to Seema Kapoor, actor Anu Kapoor’s sister in 1990, who was 10 years younger to him. But they stayed together just for less than a year. Then he married Nandita Puri, a journalist in the year 1993. They have a Son named Ishan. However, they separated in 2013 after she filed a case of domestic violence against him.
Om Puri was known as a versatile actor who could easily mould himself in every role that he did. Rather he would make it look like the role was made for him. May it be an art film like Maachis and Sadgati or a commercial comedy one like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, he acted in all of them with the same integrity. An inspiration for many, his death has created a void that can never be filled in ever again.