Om Puri with Tom Hanks in Charlie's War (2007) where he played the role of Pakistani military dictator Zia-ul-Haq

Om Puri Died but He’ll Live in Indian Cinema

Art & Cinema

When the news of Om Puri’s death was circulated across the wire networks of India, tributes started flowing in and the top notch and bottom rugs of the film industry wrote their obituaries for the man, who can be called nothing else but a versatile actor.

There are very few actors in the Indian film industry who could so easily blend to any role and any genre of cinema like Om Puri. Along with Naseeruddin Shah, his batch mate in NSD, Puri brought a new lease of life to the Indian parallel cinema since the 1980s and his remarkable work in Indian films like Akrosh, Jane Bhi Do Yaaron, Ardh Satya, Trikal, Machis, Sadgati, Giddha, Tamas, Yuva, Chakravyuh, Bajrangi Bhaijan, etc. made him a distinguished actor in the industry filled with market-oriented “stars”.

Be it the role of Pakistani military dictator Zia-ul-Haq in the Hollywood film Charlie Wilson’s War, a rickshaw puller in City of Joy, a corrupt politician in Yuva, or the role of a Maoist leader in Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuh, Om Puri looked natural and added life to the roles he played.

 

Om Puri as a Maoist leader in Prakash Jha's Chakravyuh (2012)
Om Puri as a Maoist leader in Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuh (2012)

Throughout his career, Om Puri never attached himself to any particular genre of films or any particular type of role. He did everything and he did it quite naturally.

However, in a country that is now infested with the most toxic version of communal politics, Om Puri couldn’t remain immune from fierce condemnation for his association with parallel cinema, for his roles in Hollywood cinema, and for everything else that the coterie of Narendra Modi deems “anti-national”.

Soon after his death when there were condolences flowing in, including those from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office

and BJP’s Bollywood in-charge Anupam Kher,

the social media was filled with hate messages against the deceased actor.

Bollywood actor Swara Bhaskar showing the hate filled tweets on Om Puri’s death tweeted:

 

It was unfortunate that in a country is known for a huge film industry and a huge base of cinema lovers, the death of an actor, who not only did exceptionally well in Indian cinema but also in Hollywood cinema, is actually celebrated by many due to their extreme bigotry and xenophobic nature.

With the death of Om Puri, Indian cinema lost a gem who could have breathed life into any character at any length. There is no way anyone can fill the void created by the death of Om Puri, however, it must be hoped that Indian cinema produces more gems who can follow the legacy of such versatile character and contribute more to the film industry.

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