India’s acting giant dies
New Delhi: Om Puri, one of the most versatile and celebrated actors in India, died of a heart attack at his home in Mumbai January 6. He was 66.
Puri returned home the previous evening after a shoot. Reportedly his door bell went unanswered, following which Puri’s driver raised an alarm.
Om Puri acted in more than 250 films during a career spanning four decades. His popularity transcended borders and traditional classifications, reports ndtv.com.
The actor was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award, in 1990.
Born in Ambala, Haryana, to a Railway officer, Om Puri studied at Pune’s famous Film and Television Institute of India. He was also in the class of 1973 at the National School of Drama, where Naseeruddin Shah was a fellow student.
Om Puri debuted in the 1976 Marathi film Ghashiram Kotwal, based on a play by Vijay Tendulkar.
He rose to fame with groundbreaking films such as Ardh Satya, Aakrosh and Paar. His popularity straddled mainstream films and what was described in the 1980s as parallel cinema. Fans on Twitter referred to his iconic roles in films such as Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and Maachis.
Om Puri, along with Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil, were among the critically-acclaimed actors who featured in award-winning films such as Bhavni Bhavai (1980), Sadgati (1981), Ardh Satya (1982), Mirch Masala (1986) and Dharavi (1992).
He played a notable cameo in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi. In the 1990s, he ventured into commercial films that catered to the masses rather than critics.
Over the years, Om Puri also carved a niche in American and British productions. His Hollywood outings include City of Joy (1992) with Patrick Swayze, Wolf (1994) with Jack Nicholson and The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) with Val Kilmer. He played General Zia-ul-Haq in Charlie Wilson’s War, which stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.
Puri had a meaty and memorable role opposite Helen Mirren in Steven Spielberg’s 2014 American comedy drama ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’.