There are human beings with talent and proficiency, there are ordinary individuals who come out of their inhibitions and limitations to carve a niche for themselves in the tough gritty world of glorious pursuits. And then, we have actors like Om Puri.
Rugged face, turmoil expressions and a non fancy appeal. Yet, what stood behind was one of the finest that we could ever withdraw from. At a time when we shied away from what was called as ‘Parallel Cinema’, Om Puri made his mark with some iconic acts in films like Aakrosh and Ardh Satya. The latter, was a film ahead of its time. Attacking our system embroiled in corruption, bureaucracy and nepotism, Ardh Satya had some powerful performances from its lead actors – Om Puri, Smita Patil and Sadashiv Amrapukur. in fact, Om Puri had some memorable outings with landmark directors like Govind Nihalani and Satyajit Ray. Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was a film acknowledged as one of its kind that enjoys cult status today. In fact, associated actors with JBDY look at awe when this film features in the classic bandwagon. Om Puri played a typical modern opportunist and excelled in a small but crucial role. Another Nihalani favourite is Drohkaal, which saw Om Puri playing a cop who infiltrates with his team in to the web of a dangerous terrorist organisation. Nothing glamorous but Om Puri was a class apart.
Our generation has seen very little of Om Puri, which is quite unfortunate. His characters depicted on screen swayed magic and while our character actors always tend to get overshadowed in an industry that’s ruled by Superstars, actors like Om Puri held their own despite very little going for them in terms of roles, weightage and attention. Post 90s, he was one of the very few to cross boundaries juggle between Mumbai and the west in versatile and unconventional avatars. Interestingly, films like Ghayal, Chachi 420, Hera Pheri and Gupt made us realise how we bracketed and dumped a top notch mainstream actor in to a shell of meagre opportunities and ventures.
The world of cinema will not come to a standstill albeit outpourings of condolences but the industry just became poorer with the loss of a titan like Om Puri.