Om Puri, the more is said about the man, the less it is. The veteran actor, who was an institution in himself, breathed his last today, leaving behind a void in Indian cinema that would be hard to fill. He was a man who did not mince his words, despite the reactions, and stood by what he thought was right. He was one of the first Bollywood stars to star in international movies and even won accolades for it.
Padmashri winner, and someone who astounded one and all with his exemplary performances, Om Puri was an actor one comes across in a long time. The man lived a full life, but died a lonely death.
Here’s an ode to him, a coverage of his life, in pictures.
A lonely death
On the morning of January 6, 2017, Om passed away due to a massive cardiac arrest. A quiet, peaceful, yet lonely death for a man who had lived such a rich life on screen. The actor will always be alive in our hearts. He has left behind a legacy which will be hard to carry on, for such immense talent only comes once in a long time. RIP, sir.
A man who spoke his mind
In the year 2016, Uri attacks called for massive protests and ban on Pakistani actors and actresses, who were a part of Bollywood. Om, being a veteran he was, took the side of artistes, and firmly stood by his stance of not mixing politics and art, even after being branded an anti-national by the self-proclaimed nationalists. This was a man who had seen the country before and after independence, and was speaking out of his experiences in life, a man who spoke his mind.
A not so fulfilling personal life
Om Puri might have tasted success and accolades in his professional career, but sadly, the same cannot be said about his personal life. The actor married for the first time in the year 1991, Seema Kapoor, who was actor Annu Kapoor’s sister. However, the marriage lasted only for eight months. Om found love again and tied the knot in the year 1993 with journalist Nandita Puri, who is also the author of Om Puri’s biography, ‘Unlikely Hero: The Story Of Om Puri’. The two had a son, Ishaan, together. However, Om and Nandita got divorced in the year 2013, when latter filed a case of domestic violence against Om.
Om Puri’s talent was not just acknowledged and revered in the Indian film industry, but also in Hollywood. He has starred along Hollywood biggies and stood by them, shoulder to shoulder, to give some of the thumping good performances which are simply unmatched, if measured by the acting prowess of today’s actors. Some of his amazing performances are from the movies ‘City of Joy’, ‘East is East’, ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’, ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ to name a few.
A varied and full film career
Om Puri was selective about the roles he played, and always left a lasting impression with his performances, which were diverse and creatively enriching. From art films like ‘Ardh Satya’, ‘Mirch Masala’ and ‘Dharavi’, to commercial successes like ‘Gupt’, ‘Disco Dancer’, ‘Maachis’, 'Don' and ‘Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha’, Puri’s career has been a fulfilling one.
The time when he considered changing his name
Can you imagine knowing this powerhouse performer by any other name than Om Puri? We cannot. But do you know that during the initial days of his career he thought of adopting a more commercially acceptable name? Naseeruddin Shah, his friend and classmate of NSD, suggested the names 'Vinamra Kumar' and 'Antim Khanna', but Om turned those down. In fact, in two of his initial films, he had been credited with the names of ‘Vilom Puri’ and ‘Azdak Puri’. Eventually, even those were discarded, and Om finally decided that he was better off as Om Puri. He was right.
The genre of art films
In the era of 60s and 70s, when actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and others were at their peak in the commercial era, Om Puri, along with actors like Naseeuddin Shah, Pankaj Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, and others, breathed life into critical aspects of cinema, with the genre of art films. Directors and storytellers who wanted to deviate from the mundane scripts and venture into daring cinema, had found a face in Om Puri, a powerhouse of talent.
A comrade in arts
Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah struck a beautiful friendship, during their days in National School of Drama. The friendship stayed through thick and thin, not wavering through biggest of storms. They both were rock for each other, professional and personally.
The unconventional debut
Puri made his debut with the Marathi film ‘Ghashiram Kotwal’, based on play of the same name by Vijay Tendulkar, in the year 1976. He was one of the 16 privileged and talented students of FTII who got the chance to feature in this movie.
A legend is born
Born in Ambala, Om Puri’s date of birth was unknown for a long time. He just knew that he was born two days after Dusshera. It was later on when he moved to Mumbai (then Bombay) that he looked up the date of Dusshera that year, and established his date of birth to be October 18, 1950.