‘I have no regrets at all. I have done quite well for myself. I didn’t have a conventional face, but I have done well, and I am proud of it.’- OM PURI (on Twitter)
“It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it, into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching.” –Ray Bradbury.
The New Year gave less to us than it took. Om Puri’s sudden demise left the entire nation in a state of shock and remorse. It is said that stardom makes one forget their roots, but this cannot be stated true about extraordinary actor Om Rajesh Puri, who had redefined the whole description of an actor by his uniqueness. Born in Ambala just a few days after Dussehra, Om Puri was an alumnus of NSD and FTII.
The man that he was
His humility, generosity, professionalism and dedication were exceptional. He was known for his contribution to parallel cinema, art films, mainstream cinema, television dramas and theatre.
A string of awards
Om Puri won National awards for ‘Ardh Satya’ and ‘Arohan’. He was also a Padma Shri awardee and an honorary officer of the Order of the British Empire. Apart from numerous awards he had earned, he also had a Bafta nomination in the best actor category for ‘East is East’.
Om Puri’s acting career ignited with a Marathi film ‘Ghashiram Kotwal’ after which he did many regional and international films. Om Puri had a close relation with the litterateur Girish Karnad, to whom he said he was indebted for his enrollment in FTII to getting roles in various movies. Such was the depth of their bonding that Karnad had an entire chapter on Om Puri in his autobiography ‘Aadaadata Aayushya’.
In Om Puri’s acting audience could see diverse shades, varying from an angry cop struggling with the evils in Ardh Satya to an out-caste shoemaker trying to survive in the rigid caste system of India in ‘Sadgati’ to light hearted role of a builder in ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’. His reach was not just limited to India rather he had gained respect and popularity world over. He had worked various British and American movies such as in Oscar winning biopic Gandhi, East is East, My son the fanatic, City of Joy, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Charlie Wilson’s War, Viceroys India and Actor-in-law (Pakistani film). At the age of 62, he entered theatre again with Mamja, the theatre company he had originally worked with in his struggling phase. Even though it was his good old colleague Naseeruddin Shah who encouraged him to go back to basics, theatre was his very soul and salvation.
In an era when heroes were supposed be god-like, Om Puri broke the stereotypes and let his work speak for him. He was a person unchanged by the winds of success or failure, passionately striving for perfection.
Om Puri shall forever remain in the hearts of his loved ones….for the unprecedented thespian performances he delivered. Whether it was the film industry or life in general, his generosity, kindness and innocence can never be forgotten…!