Mumbai, January 6 (NIA): Indians and Pakistanis alike are deeply mourning the sudden death of veteran Bollywood character actor Om Puri. 66 year old Puri passed away at his home in Andheri in Mumbai after a massive heart attack at 6:30 am on Friday.
The seasoned actor famous for his roles in Don 2, Delhi – 6, OMG – Oh my God!, Kurbaan, Dabangg, had several hits to his name and was renowned the world-over. In fact, he made quite a big splash in Hollywood as well with movies such as The Hundred-Foot Journey, Charlie Wilson’s War.
Puri’s death came as a shock to the entire film fraternity. The versatile actor’s last role was in a Pakistani movie called Actor-in-law, which also starred Mahira Khan who is all set to make her mega-debut in Bollywood in ‘Raees’ opposite Shah Rukh Khan.
Several people from politicians to Bollywood personalities reacted on Twitter as the initial news broke.
“The Prime Minister condoles the passing away of actor Om Puri & recalls his long career in theatre & films,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ’s Office (PMO) tweeted.
Film maker Ashoke Pandit took to his Twitter handle to share the news,
“Sad & shocked to know that versatile actor Om Puri jee has expired due to heart attack early morning today. #RIP.”
Om Puri, born on October 18, 1950, to a Punjabi family, was an actor, who appeared in mainstream commercial, Pakistani, Hollywood, independent and art films.
The actor, who had more than 100 films to his credit, was also honored with Padma Shri and two National Film Awards, during his acting career that stretched for more than four decades.
According to Times of India Puri returned home last evening after a shoot and didn’t answer his door bell in the morning. His driver then raised an alarm. Puri’s body was taken to Cooper hospital for postmortem.
His funeral will take place at 6pm, according to a tweet by his colleague and friend Shabana Azmi.
He visited Pakistan frequently, being an ardent supporter of Pak-India cultural collaborations and was a regular fixture on the film and literary festival circuit in Pakistan.
He said of his experience of filming Actor In Law in Pakistan last year: “I really like working in Pakistan, because I’m pampered a lot here. I keep responding to people’s salaams from morning to night. So many people want to throw me a dinner party at their house. And everyone wants a selfie.”
He continued, “I’ve known Pakistanis abroad for about 20 years. I have always received love from them, so much so that it’s hard to believe that there are conflicts between our two countries. I pray that we find our way to peace and both countries work towards progress, friendship and trade.”
Puri also played several Pakistani characters in British and Hollywood films, from the iconic role of George Khan in the British production East is East and West is West to President Zia-ul-Haq in Charlie Wilson’s War.
He was last seen in Manoj Sharma’s Yeh Hai Lollipop.
Casting Om Puri in Actor-in-Law took some determination on producer Fiza’s part. When she first reached out to him, her manager had bad news: Om Puri had damaged his spine and wasn’t open to acting offers. He was also away on vacation, and “nobody could convince him” for a role at the time. She was told to “take this thought [of casting him] back.”
But Fiza was undeterred. She got hold of his personal number and had the script hand-delivered to his home. The extra effort worked. “I didn’t need to call Puri sahib after that,” Fiza shared, “He called me to accept the offer to act in our film.”
Saying that he’s previously staged a play in Lahore, Om Puri added, “I’m an apolitical person. I say what I feel like. No one has responded ‘Why are you in Pakistan?’ If they do, I will give them a befitting reply.”