Veteran Indian actor Om Puri died on Friday morning of a heart attack at his residence here, a family friend said. He was 66.
Veteran actress Shabana Azmi tweeted his funeral details. “Om Puri undergoing post-mortem at Cooper Hospital. Will be taken to Trishul around 3 p.m. Funeral at Oshiwara electric crematorium around 6 p.m.,” Shabana tweeted.
Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, who was going to direct the actor in his new movie, told IANS over phone: “It is a very sad news. Om Puri ji passed away after a heart attack today (Friday) morning. He was at his home.” “His body of work in the Indian film industry has been tremendous across the commercial and parallel genres. We’ve lost a great talent,” Agnihotri added.
Known for his deep baritone and distinctive acting style, Om Puri had an affinity towards socially relevant cinema. This drove him into doing movies like “Aakrosh”, “Ardh Satya” and “Dharavi”. A National School of Drama alumnus, Om Puri also featured in movies like “Mirch Masala” and explored his ability to dabble in the comedy genre with “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro”, “Chachi 420″, “Hera Pheri”, “Malamaal Weekly” and more.
His stint on the small screen saw him feature in shows like “Kakkaji Kaheen” and “Mr. Yogi”, but his most notable work was in TV film “Tamas”, which was helmed by Govind Nihalani — a filmmaker with whom Om Puri worked very closely all through. Om Puri also nurtured an international career, which started with a cameo in Richard Attenborough’s “Gandhi”.
Among some of his British films were “My Son the Fanatic”, “East Is East” and “The Parole Officer”. He also appeared in Hollywood films including “City of Joy”, “Wolf” and “The Ghost and the Darkness”. He even featured in Pakistani film “Actor In Law”, and also sank his teeth into film projects in multiple languages like Malayalam and Kannada.
A Padma Shri awardee and National Award-winner, Om Puri was also conferred the title of the Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to the British film industry. His work extended from theatre, television, Indian films to those in Britain and the US too. He was president of the Cine & TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA) and a former chairman of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).
For his superlative work, he was honoured with the National Film Award for Best Actor twice — for “Arohan” in 1982 and for “Ardh Satya” in 1984.He was married to Nandita Puri, from whom he separated in 2013. Together, they have a son named Ishaan.
A tweet on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “The Prime Minister condoles the passing away of actor Om Puri and recalls his long career in theatre and films.” Actor Anupam Kher, a close friend of Om Puri, said he had spoken to him just two days ago, and the disheartening news of his demise was broken to him by filmmaker Ashoke Pandit.
Khalid Kidwai, producer of Om Puri’s upcoming film “Ram Bhajan Zindabad”, said he met him on Thursday night on the promotional activities of the movie. “He was in a happy mood and we conversed till late evening, before he went to his friend and actor Manoj Pahwa’s party,” Kidwai told IANS.
“In the morning when I learnt about his demise, I was in shock! Still cannot believe it,” Kidwai added. Actor and General Secretary of CINTAA, Sushant Singh, said: “Spoke to him last evening (Thursday), and was supposed to meet him tonight (Friday) as he wanted to be updated about CINTAA. This morning I got the news… devastated.”
Another member of CINTAA and actor Amit Behl said Om Puri was one of the finest human beings. “I used to call him my Guru Bhai as we were trained by the same Guru. He was down-to-earth, very fine and a realistic actor.”