With powerful performances over the past four decades, which have won him several international and national awards and worldwide acclaim, actor Om Puri has an everlasting and universal appeal. The actor’s rough magnetism and matchless ability to excel in diverse genres captivate audiences across the spectrum.
In town recently for the promotion of his latest film, a comedy, Hogaya Dimaagh Ka Dahi , the maverick actor spoke at length on his upcoming release and his film career. AkroshArdh Satya
Ask him why he chose Hogaya Dimaagh ka Dahi and Om Puri, smiles warmly, showering effusive praise on debutant director Fauzia Arshi from Bhopal.
“I was excited about the script from the word go. But what impressed me most was director Fauzia Arshi’s highly charming and graceful demeanour full of a tehzeeb reminiscent of a bygone era.” This coupled with her stunning academic credentials, being highly educated, done an MBA, she has done law… and much more in fact and to top this her musical talents….she sings, plays the guitar. So it was hard to say no to such an accomplished lady.”
“And the money was good too,’ he adds with a twinkle in his eye.
Speaking on the comedy genre in general, Om Puri feels that in recent years, the comedy genre has been reduced to crass drama, laden with double meanings, bordering on vulgarity. “A comedy should have satire, something on the lines of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. Providing relief from the routine of everyday life should be the main purpose of a comedy. Dimaag Kah Dahi Ho Gaya attempts to do just that. This film is an out and out comedy, full of good clean fun. “The location shooting for the film was very invigorating too, up in the cool environs of Chail in Himachal away from the heat and dust of the plains. It was an enjoyable experience, a very comfortable stay.”
On what makes him tick as an actor, the seasoned performer says, “I have come a long way in the industry and my career, donning different roles. I have been in this profession for decades. It becomes a pattern after a while.” But he adds instantly, “I still feel that slight tinge of nervousness, at the first shot, be it a new film or a theatrical performance. That fear, at the first shot is very essential. I feel the day an artist becomes too sure of himself, he is on the wane. So yes, even after, say for instance, 100 shows, on the 101’st show my heart beat goes a wee bit aflutter. And that’s what keeps me grounded. More importantly I feel no film should be remembered as a bad film for an artist. As an actor I feel one must strive to deliver the best. Complacency and mediocrity should never creep into an artist’s life. The audience loves and appreciates you for a reason and a performer should not forget that,” says the ace actor, contemplatively.
He has had a long innings and seen many changes in the industry. “Industry has changed quite a bit. For one we now get a typed script. There have been vast technical improvements too. There are huge publicity budgets surrounding film releases now.”
But, he goes on to add, the industry still needs to be more original in terms of subject matter. “Why are we are still deriving ideas from Hollywood films or copying from them? We need to get out of this mode. We need to think out-of-the box, and original. Also there is less and less of serious cinema and still lesser emphasis on issues dogging rural areas. There should a healthy balance,” says the actor.
“I believe cinema presents two sides of the same coin. It should have a twin objective of providing entertainment and also serve as a mirror to society’s problems. Social messaging is very important too. And undoubtedly cinema being a powerful medium should reflect issues plaguing contemporary society and think beyond market forces,” sums up the consummate actor.