Entertainment

Google Doodle pays tribute to Amrish Puri on his 87th birth anniversary

Puri left a lasting impression with his villainous roles through the 1980s and 1990s

Today’s Google doodle, designed by Pune-based artist Debangshu Moulik, celebrates the 87th birth anniversary of noted Bollywood actor Amrish Puri. For the design, Mr. Moulik took inspiration from old hand-painted Bollywood movie posters and the streets of India.

Amrish Puri, born on June 22, 1932, is best remembered for the iconic villains he played in Hindi cinema, from Mogambo in Shekhar Kapur’s Mr. India to Thakur Durjan Singh in Karan Arjun. In Hollywood, he played Mola Ram in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Khan in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi . He had acted in over 400 films in Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, English, Punjabi, Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil, before his death in 2005.

He won three Filmfare Awards for Best Supporting Actor. He was also a prominent stage actor and acted in Mumbai’s Prithvi Theatre in a multitude of roles in plays by the likes of Satyadev Dubey and the recently deceased Girish Karnad. He won the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1979. In fact, his theatre roles earned him television ads and eventually, films, at the age of 40.

Puri left a lasting impression with his villainous roles through the 1980s and 1990s. His distinguished look and deep baritone made him suitable for a wide range of negative roles, from the absolutely villainous Mogambo to the stringent father Chaudhry Baldev Singh in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. His bloodshot eyes and reverberating laughter could evoke a multitude of emotions in his audience- mostly fear, disgust or loathing- as he went about being tyrannical. His first role was in the film Prem Pujari, released in 1970.

Iconic Hollywood director Steven Spielberg described him as “ the best (villain) the world has ever produced and ever will”. In his personal life, Puri was quite the contrary. He is remembered by his friends and colleagues as a gentle and sensitive person, who would often mentor young actors off-screen.

When Puri came to Mumbai, with less than a hundred rupees in his pocket, his elder brothers Madan Puri and Chaman Puri were already successful actors in negative roles. Puri, however, failed his first screen test in 1954 and went on to find a job with the Employees' State Insurance Corporation. His work in theatre allowed him to meet Bollywood director Shyam Benegal. Puri began as a voiceover artist for an actor in one of Mr. Benegal’s films, after which he starred in almost every movie made by the director. Eventually, a strong friendship developed between the two and Puri earned wide accolade for his roles in Nishant and Bhumika. Mr. Benegal remembers Puri as having had “extremely disciplined ways”.

Amrish Puri passed away on January 12, 2005. He was suffering from blood cancer.

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This article has been corrected for a factual error.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 7:05:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/google-doodle-celebrates-the-87th-birth-anniversary-of-amrish-puri/article28106917.ece

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