Om Puri Birth Anniversary: 10 Lesser Known Facts About The Late Veteran Actor
It is veteran actor Om Puri’s birth anniversary today (October 18). The actor, whom we lost to a heart attack earlier this year (January 6, 2017), would have turned 67. An alumnus of the prestigious National School of Drama, Puri not only wowed audience in mainstream Bollywood cinema but in Pakistani, British and Hollywood films as well.
The actor, born in Ambala, Haryana, to a Punjabi family, has films like Bhavni Bhavai (1980), Sadgati (1981), Ardh Satya (1982), Mirch Masala (1986) and Dharavi (1992) to his credit. A Padma Shri awardee, his work has been much celebrated. But he was also widely written about for his controversial married life to Nandita Puri. The two got married in 1993 and their separation in 2013 caused a stir in the media when his wife accused him of adultery. On his birth anniversary today, let’s take a moment look at the lesser known facts about the actor, an institution in himself, who entertained us all in a career spanning four decades.
Om Puri was an introvert and took time to open up, talk to people and even longer to make friends. Om Puri always got cold feet while talking to women.
Om Puri had complex issues when he was at the National School of Drama. He attributes this to his schooling in a Punjabi Medium School.
Naseeruddin Shah, who was Om Puri’s classmate at NSD was a fan of Om Puri’s voice. In one of his interviews, he confessed, “When I spoke to Om for the first time, I wished I had his voice.”
Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah
While Om was nervous around women, he did everything in the book to charm them. During his NSD days, he would get them flowers and chocolates to impress them. He said in one of his interviews that he had go out of the way and do these things because he couldn’t impress them with his words.
Puri always had a language problem due to his Punjabi upbringing. But he decided to do films in various languages and used to spend months learning the basics of the particular language before the shooting. Om Puri made his film debut in 1976 with the Marathi film, Ghashiram Kotwal and also acted in a Kannada movie, A.K. 47
At NSD, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri bonded over food and it was Naseer who introduced Om to non-vegetarian food. He was a vegetarian before that.
With the help of his friends at NSD, Om Puri started taking English language lessons and went on to do over 20 movies in English.
Om Puri was always conscious of his fat nose. He was unsure if he would ever be able to act in films. His main aim to join NSD was to gain recognition and acceptance.
Om Puri is not a dancer and therefore one of the biggest embarrassing moments of his life was when he had to match steps with veteran British actress Helen Mirren in The Hundred-Foot Journey. In an interview back in the day, he revealed, “We did Waltz. I was very nervous as I am not a dancer. But we moved well. Helen helped me.”
Perhaps one of the first movie actors to also appear in a Television serial, Om Puri was seen in Kakkaji Kaheen and Mr. Yogi. He also worked in some episodes of the much popular horror show Aahat and much later hosted the second season of crime based show Saavdhan India.