Veteran Bollywood actor Om Puri passed away this morning due to a heart attack.
He acted in over 250 films in his 40-year career.
As the country mourns his demise, let’s take a trip back in time and through his life.
Om Puri was an alumnus of National School of Drama, New Delhi, where Naseeruddin Shah was his classmate. He later graduated from Film and Television Institute of India, Pune and then shifted base to Mumbai to pursue acting.
Om Puri debuted in Ghashiram Kotwal, a Marathi film based Vijay Tendulkar’s play.
He began to collaborate with other actors in art films like Bhavni Bhavai. He went on to star in Sadgati and Ardh Satya in the next two years—two roles that he was nationally celebrated for.
He was critically acclaimed for choosing unconventional roles, like that of a police inspector who revolts against political and social oppression in Ardh Satya. He was also awarded a National Film Award for this role.
In the same year, he played a cameo role in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi.
Puri starred in an iconic comic role in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, a film that went on to attain cult status for its darkly satirical take on Indian politics and corruption.
Puri starred in Mirch Masala with Naseeruddin Shah and Smita Patil.
He proved his versatility as a comedian by starring in Kakaji Kahen and, a year later, in Mr. Yogi, both of which were TV serials. The previous year, he received critical acclaim for his performance in Tamas, a television film.
Puri was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award.
He diversified to international films, with roles in Hollywood movies like City of Joy, in which he acted opposite Patrick Swayze.
Puri appeared in Wolf alongside Jack Nicholson.
He acted in British film My Son the Fanatic, a role that brought him much international visibility. He later appeared in two other well-known British films—East is East in 1999 and The Parole Officer in 2001.
Om Puri in My Son the Fanatic
Puri continued to take on comic roles in mainstream Bollywood movies like Hera Pheri and, two years later, in Chor Machaye Shor.
He was named Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to the British Film Industry.
Puri starred in Don: The Chase Begins Again as CBI Officer Vishal Malik.
He acted in Charlie Wilson’s War, alongside Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks
Puri appeared in several Bollywood movies this year, including Action Replayy, Dabangg, Delhi-6, and Billu.
In his final year in the industry, he acted in Malayalam movie Aadupuliyattam, Kannada movie Santheyalli Nintha Kabira, made his Pakistani film debut in Actor In Law, and did the Hindi dub for Bagheera in The Jungle Book.
Om Puri in costume for his role in Aadupuliyattam
Talk about versatility.
Om Puri was a giant in his field. He will be missed. His legacy of impeccable acting, acting that broke barriers and borders, will live on.
Co-written with Tarana Reddy