Veteran Indian actor Om Puri died on Friday morning of a heart attack at his residence in Mumbai, a family friend said. He was 66.
Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, who was to direct the actor in his new movie, told IANS over phone: “It is very sad news. Om Puri-ji passed away after a heart attack today (Friday) morning. He was at his home.”
Actor Anupam Kher, a close friend of Om Puri, said he had spoken to him only two days ago. He had heard the sad news of his death from filmmaker Ashoke Pandit.
Anupam described Om Puri as a “kind and generous” person, who spent four decades in showbiz with an undying passion towards his craft.
A Padma Shri awardee and National Award-winning talent, Om Puri was also granted the title Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to the British film industry.
His work extended from theatre, television, Indian films to those in Britain and the US. He was president of the Cine & TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA) and a former chairman of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).
A tweet on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi read: “The Prime Minister condoles the passing away of actor Om Puri and recalls his long career in theatre and films.”
Bollywood actor Om Puri shows his Order of British Empire (OBE) award during a function in Bombay April 18, 2005. Reuters
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”.
He would go onto act in such British films as “My Son the Fanatic”, “East Is East” and “The Parole Officer”. He also appeared in several Hollywood films, including “City of Joy”, “Wolf” and “The Ghost and the Darkness”.
He even featured in Pakistani film “Actor In Law”, and sank his teeth into film projects in multiple languages like Malayalam and Kannada.
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.
In 1990, he was given the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award.
Puri was married to Nandita Puri , from whom he separated in 2013. Together, they have a son named Ishaan.
The film industry mourns
The film industry mourned Puri’s death with many heartfelt tributes on social media
Actor Anupam Kher wrote: “Seeing him lying on his bed looking so calm can’t believe that one of our greatest actors Om Puri is no more. Deeply saddened and shocked.”
Having known Puri for over four decades, Kher added: “I have known Om Puri for the last 43 years. For me he’ll always be a great actor, a kind and generous man. And that is how world should remember him.
“Om Puri lent dignity to d medium he worked for. Whether it was stage, TV or cinema. He elevated status of the projects was associated with.”
Actress Priyanka Chopra tweeted: “The end of an era …. The legacy lives on.. RIP Om Puri”.
Bollywood star Akshay Kumar wrote: “Sad to hear about the passing away of the very talented Om Puri, my co-actor in many films… Heartfelt condolences to the family.”
Shocked beyond words to express, actor Riteish Deshmukh tweeted: “Will miss you sir. Condolences to the family. Had the privilege of working with Om ji in two films ‘Malamaal Weekly’ and ‘Tere Naal Love Hogayaa’. I still can’t believe he is no more.”
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, reacting to the tragic news, said a part of him is gone.
“Goodbye Om! A part of me goes with you today. How can I ever forget those passionate nights we spent together talking about cinema and life,” wrote Bhatt.
Filmmaker Subhash Ghai said Om Puri’s life is “an inspirational journey of ordinary man to extraordinary international actor for next generation.”
Filmmaker Hansal Mehta described him as “among our finest”. “A simple man and a great artiste,” he said.
Singer and music composer Vishal Dadlani wrote: “So many unforgettable performances, which will outlive all of us. What a legend.”
Actor Boman Irani tweeted: “RIP Om Puri. We have lost one of our finest. A talent, a voice, a spirit. Will miss you Puri saab.”
Actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan wrote: “So long Om ji. Prided myself on being his friend peer and admirer. Who dare say my Om Puri is no more? He lives through his work.”
Bidding adieu to the legendary actor, filmmaker Kabir Khan tweeted: “Om ji. I will miss that warm tight hug that you gave me every morning on set.
Sajid Khan recollected the actor’s work in films like “Ardh Satya”, “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro”, “City of Joy” and “Chachi 420”, saying “his versatility and journey as an actor was remarkable”.
Describing him as a father figure to an entire generation of actors, Adil Hussain wrote, “He believed in Independent Films. Truly a trailblazer. I will miss him dearly. Rest in deep peace Om ji.”
Actress Shabana Azmi, who was among his friends too, wrote: “Om Puri! You have left us all too early… The fun the laughter the arguments so vividly etched in my mind…Will miss you.”