Rest in Peace, Om Puri (1950-2017): Acting & Controversies

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Om Puri, gifted actor and a celebrated figure in India’s parallel cinema movement, passed away yesterday, that is on January 6, 2017. He was 66.An actor with unconventional looks, Puri made his 1976 debut in the Marathi film Ghasiram Kotwal. He established himself as the critic’s favourite with stellar performances in  Ardh Satya, Aakrosh, Mirch Masala, Ghayal, Narsimha and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro.

Puri also starred prominently in international productions. Notable mentions include The Hundred-Foot Journey,
Gandhi,The Ghost and the Darkness and East is East. In the last 15 years of his career, Om Puri didn’t get the roles he deserved. On the other hand, his contemporary Naseeruddin Shah was cast in many creatively-satisfying roles.Films like Dirty Politics and Chor Machaye Shor were low points in Puri’s career.

But even in his clipped,short roles, Om Puri always inevitably left an impact. A very good instance is his role in the Salman Khan starer Bajrangi Bhaijaan. His hilarious act as Kadak Singh in the con job movie Hera Pheri will always be remembered for its effortless brilliance.

As it happens with celebrities,Om Puri was not immune to controversies.The  release of the actor’s biography ‘Unlikely Hero: The Story Of Om Puri‘ was the center of a major controversy.The book was written by his wife, Nandita Puri. Prior to the book’s release, lurid excerpts emerged on TV media. These book passages talked about Puri’s extramarital affair with his maid.Later, Om Puri threatened to get back at his wife, for this alleged cheap depiction of the actor.

Quite recently, Puri was in the line of fire again. In a TV interview, Puri questioned the army and why soldiers were asked to pick up weapons. He later publicly apologized for the comments. Puri has been part of many other embarrassing, off-guard moments. From calling beef banning authorities as hypocrites to proclaiming naxalities as ‘fighters’, he’s said it all.

But finally, Om Puri will be remembered as the finest actors to ever grace Hindi cinema. All things aside, we can’t deny Om Puri, his towering reputation as an actor.

Rest in peace, Om Puri.

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