Veteran Indian actor Om Puri died on Friday morning of a heart attack at his residence here, a family friend said. He was 66.
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.”
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.
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 conferred upon the title of the 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 too. 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.”
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 sank his teeth into film projects in multiple languages like Malayalam and Kannada too.
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 bestowed the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award.
He was married to Nandita Puri, from whom he separated in 2013. Together, they have a son named Ishaan.
The film industry mourned his death, with heartfelt tributes on social media platforms.