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Om Puri (1950-2017)

Om Puri was the gentlest person: Naseeruddin Shah

Film fraternity took to social media to express their condolences.

January 06, 2017 10:08 am | Updated November 28, 2021 10:11 pm IST

Om Puri is a Padma Shri awardee and a National Award winner.

Om Puri is a Padma Shri awardee and a National Award winner.

Veteran actor Om Puri passed away on Friday morning after suffering a heart attack. He was 66. Film fraternity took to social media to express their condolences.

Naseeruddin Shah

"It's very hard to digest the thought that I'll never see him again. He was the gentlest most compassionate genuinely considerate person I have ever known. I took vicarious pride in his tremendous achievements. Tom Stoppard's statement never seemed truer that 'you cannot act death. Death is not moaning and gasping and falling around- it is an absence'."

Vishal Baradwaj

"He was one of the finest actors (in) Indian cinema. A great human being and a very dear friend. It is a personal loss for me."  

Sudhir Mishra

"Let us remember that Om Puri was a star. He was popular as well as a great actor. Let us remember that he was one of the most skilled, most versatile actors of all time in India. I cannot remember any actor better than Om Puri; he was second to none. Very few people have done performances like in Aakrosh (1980), Ardh Satya (1983), Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983), Dharavi (1992), Mirch Masala (1987), Tamas (1987); look at the range of the man. Then East is East (1999), which was a big film. He worked with a star like Patrick Swayze and that too with an equally important role in City of Joy (1992). So look where he went. He was a star and he paved the way for great actors to become stars. Ardh Satya was a silver jubilee, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro ran for 56 weeks in Delhi's Paharganj. He was a very successful actor. he was not a minor actor who passed away.

Personally he worked with me in Dharavi and made a film like that possible. He was an actor who didn't obstruct the film. He didn't call attention to himself but rendered beautifully to the style and theme of the film and participated in it. He could switch styles and was equally good in theatre. Some of my earliest memories in theatre was with Om Puri. For me, he was instrumental in me coming into cinema. That whole generation of actors and directors were the ones I admired and therefore I came into cinema, because people like him existed and made it possible."

Ketan Mehta

"Om along with Naseer, Smita, Shabana, was one of the major pillars of the new wave of Indian cinema in the '70s and '80s. He will be remembered as a great versatile actor, and one of the few to break into international cinema. He has done some incredible work in international films and has been very much appreciated for his roles. A very humble human being and one of the earliest modern actors in Indian cinema.

We started our careers more or less together. He was there in my first three films. I still remember him cribbing about wearing a huge wig in Mirch Masala (1987), that too in the peak of summer at a location which was filled with chili powder and chilies. Despite the trying experience of putting on a wig and this big beard, he still performed with a smiling face, joking around about his ambition. That is a lasting memory.

My first film was a Gujarati film and Om didn't know Gujarati so I remember him writing down his Gujarati dialogues in Devnagri for the next day's scenes and memorizing it during the night. The next morning we found these chits under his pillow, and the joke was that Om doesn't have to read, he just puts the dialogue under his pillow and it gets inside his head.

Even recently when we met for the last time, he greeted me with a soliloquy from Bhavni Bhavai (1980), rattling off at a rapid pace, just to remind me that he remembers the dialogues even after 30 years. He was quite an amazing man, very down to earth, coming from a very lower middle class family and breaking all the norms, despite his looks. Achieving what he has achieved, it's a phenomenal journey."

Kundan Shah

Heard about the news this morning. I'm too disturbed to speak, but he was a good friend and a wonderful actor.

- As told to Kennith Rosario

Girish Karnad

On the verge of rejection during the interview process for entry into Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), it was Girish Karnad, eminent actor and playwright, who vouched for Om Puri.

Om Puri's FTII admit card. Photo courtesy: Film and Television Institute of India, Pune

Om Puri's FTII admit card. Photo courtesy: Film and Television Institute of India, Pune

 

Mr. Karnad, who was present in the selection panel, managed to convince the others on the panel that acting was not linked to looks — for, it was Om Puri’s ‘non-heroic, and non-comedic’ looks that had seen him nearly on the rejection list.

The two then maintained a mentor-student relationship that lasted nearly four decades. “I had introduced him to the sector by introducing him to (BV) Karanth for the film he was making at the time, Chor Chor Chhup Jaaye,” said Mr. Karnad.

Om Puri’s time at FTII has been recollected by Mr. Karnad in his memoir, Aadaatha Ayusha . “After the course, we even got him in a small role (along with Naseeruddin Shah who had just graduated from FTII too) in the Kannada movie, Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane ,” he said.

- As told to Mohit M. Rao

Tributes

"I have known Om Puri for d last 43 years. For me he will always be a great actor, a kind and generous man. And that is how world should remember him," veteran actor Anupam Kher said in a tweet.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled Puri’s demise and recalled his long career in theatre and films, reported PTI.

 "Shocked to learn of OM PURI Ji's passing just now.. a dear friend a lovable colleague and an exceptional talent .. in grief !," tweeted Amitabh Bachchan. Bachchan and the late actor have worked together in couple of movies including Dev, Ghatak.

 

 

 

Film maker Karan Johar also expressed his sadness.

 

Actor Akshay Kumar tweeted, "Sad to hear about the passing away of the very talented Om Puri, my co-actor in many films...heartfelt condolences to the family. #RIP."

"Heartbreaking devastating news. Om ji, you can't just leave us so suddenly," tweeted Nandita Das.

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