Om Puri dead: From East is East to Charlie Wilson’s War, how he won the West


Legandary actor Om Puri died Legandary actor Om Puri dead
A fat nose and pockmarked face, these are not the features that would help one become a recognisable and successful actor in the world of Bollywood. But legendary actor Om Puri proved that looks are not an issue when one is gifted with a strong will and an abundance of talent. The actor died on Friday morning after suffering a fatal heart-attack. He was 66. His passing is the first and irreplaceable loss to the world cinema in 2017.
Before he began appearing in films that catered to the whims of the mass audience, Puri was one of the pioneers of Indian art house films. He played several memorable and hard-hitting roles, reflecting the current social problems at the time as realistic as possible. In the span of more than 40 years, he has acted in several languages, including Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi, Marathi and English movies.
A few years back, the Aakrosh actor revealed that he longed for more roles in the West as he felt a person of his looks and age had more opportunities there. As Puri’s long and decorated film career has come to an end with his demise, here is a look at some of his roles in the British and American films that made him a popular face outside the subcontinent.
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Puri played a role called Papa in this 2014 Hollywood comedy film and was pitted opposite Helen Mirren. The film, based on the novel of the same name by Richard C Morais, follows the journey of Indian cooks and their ensuing professional rivalry when they decide to open an Indian restaurant in a French village just 100-feet across a French restaurant. The film, directed by Lasse Hallstrom, was produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey.
Charlie Wilson’s War
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The 2007 film starring Tom Hanks in the title role, revolves around the secret dealings of the Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson in Afghanistan and how he helps the people there in their fight against Soviets. Om Puri has played Pakistani General Zia-ul-Haq in the film.
East is East
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This 1999 hit comedy-drama is Puri’s another noteworthy British film. It is a story of a Pakistani Muslim named Zaheed George Khan, living in Britain with an English wife. It narrates the struggle of a father, whose children reject his ethnicity, code of dress and religious customs as they see themselves as British. The film, directed by directed by Damien O’Donnel had received several awards for story, screenplay and direction.
My Son the Fanatic
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The 1997 romantic-drama is another gem in Puri’s career. He played the lead role of a Pakistani immigrant in Britain, who makes a living by driving a taxi. His performance in the film was recognised with the best actor award at the Brussels International Film Festival.
Such a Long Journey
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The 1998 Indo-Canadian film is based on the novel of the same name written by Rohinton Mistry. In the film, Puri had shared screen space with another Indian prolific actor Naseeruddin Shah. The film received 12 Genie Awards nominations in various categories and was screened at screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The Ghost and the Darkness
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Puri had played another noteworthy role in the 1996 American film directed by Stephen Hopkins. The film is a fictionalised account of the Tsavo Man-Eaters, two lions that attacked and killed workers at Tsavo, Kenya, during the building of the Uganda-Mombasa Railway in East Africa in 1898.
City of Joy
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The 1992 film based on the novel of the same name by Dominique Lapierre, based on the poverty in then modern India and the people living in the slums.
Puri has also made a popular cameo appearance in the 1982 Oscar-winning film, Gandhi. He has also worked in television shows, Jewel in the Crown and The Canterbury Tales. Recognising his contribution to the film industry, although he was not a citizen, Puri received honorary Order of British Empire (OBE) in 2004.