Amrish Puri

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Amrish Puri
Amrish Puri.jpg
Puri at the premiere of The Hero: Love Story of a Spy in 2003
Born(1932-06-22)22 June 1932
Died12 January 2005(2005-01-12) (aged 72)
Years active1967–2005
Urmila Diveker
(m. 1957)
RelativesChaman Puri (brother)
Madan Puri (brother)
K. L. Saigal (cousin)
Vardhan Puri (grandson)
Amrish Puri's signature

Amrish Puri[1] (22 June 1932 – 12 January 2005)[2] was an Indian actor who was an important figure in Indian theatre and cinema. He is remembered for playing iconic villainous roles in Punjabi, Hindi cinema as well as other Indian and international film industries. To Indian audiences he is the most remembered for his role as Mogambo in Shekhar Kapur's Hindi film Mr. India (1987), and to Western audiences he is best known as Mola Ram in Steven Spielberg's Hollywood film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).

While he predominantly worked in Hindi-language films, he had also appeared in Punjabi, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Marathi language films. Puri won three Filmfare Awards for Best Supporting Actor.[3]

His grandson,[4] Vardhan Puri, is also an actor in Indian Cinema, having written and starred in a film produced by a production house named after Puri, Amrish Puri Films.[5]

Early life[edit]

Amrish Lal Puri was born in a Punjabi Hindu family in Nawanshahr, Punjab, to Lala Nihal Chand and Ved Kaur.[1] He had four siblings, elder brothers Chaman Puri and Madan Puri (both of whom were also actors), elder sister Chandrakanta, and a younger brother, Harish Puri. He was the first cousin of the actor and singer K. L. Saigal.[6]


Puri acted in more than 450 films[citation needed] between 1967 and 2005, and was one of the most successful[citation needed] villains in Bollywood. Most of them were hits.[citation needed] Puri first came to Bombay in the early 1950s following the footsteps of his elder brothers – Madan Puri and Chaman Puri, who were already established actors known for playing villainous roles.[7] He failed his first screen test, and instead found a job with the Employees' State Insurance Corporation Ministry of Labour and Employment (ESIC). At the same time, he started performing at the Prithvi Theatre in plays written by Satyadev Dubey. He eventually became well known as a stage actor and won the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1979.[8] This theatre recognition soon led to work in television ads and eventually to films at the relatively late age of 40.

Puri went on to work in Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Hollywood, Punjabi, Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil films. Though he was successful in many regional films, he is best known for his work in Bollywood cinema.

Through the 1970s, Puri often worked in supporting roles, usually as the henchman of the main villain. He was noticed in the 1980 super-hit movie Hum Paanch in which he played the main villain. After that, he started getting cast as the main villain in other movies. In 1982, Puri played the main villain, Jagavar Choudhary in the Subhash Ghai super-hit film Vidhaata. That year, he again played the main villain, JK in the movie Shakti co-starring Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. Next, in 1983, Ghai again cast him as the main villain, Pasha in the hit movie Hero. Puri regularly featured in subsequent Ghai films.

Puri reigned supreme in villainous roles in the 1980s and 1990s. His dominating screen presence and baritone voice made him stand out amongst the other villains of the day.

He is known to international audiences for his roles as Khan in Richard Attenborough's Gandhi (1982) and as the main antagonist Mola Ram in Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). He shaved his head for the role, and it created such an impression that he kept his head shaved. His bald look gave him the flexibility to experiment with different looks as a villain in subsequent movies. Puri and Spielberg shared a great rapport and Spielberg often said in interviews: "Amrish is my favorite villain. The best the world has ever produced and ever will!"[9]

In villainous roles, Puri is best remembered as "Mogambo" in Mr. India, "Jagavar" in Vidhaata, "Thakral" in Meri Jung, "Bhujang" in Tridev, "Balwant Rai" in Ghayal, Barrister Chadda in Damini and "Thakur Durjan Singh" in Karan Arjun. His comic role in Chachi 420, that he acted alongside Kamal Haasan was highly appreciated.

From the 1990s until his death in 2005, Puri also featured in positive supporting roles in many movies. Some of his notable positive roles are Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Phool Aur Kaante, Gardish, Pardes, Virasat, Ghatak, Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai, China Gate. He received the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor award for Meri Jung and Virasat.

Death and legacy[edit]

Puri was suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare kind of blood cancer, and had undergone brain surgery for his condition after he was admitted to the Hinduja hospital on 27 December 2004. His condition required frequent removal of the blood accumulated in the cerebral region of the brain and after some time he slipped into a coma shortly before his death around 7:30 a.m on 12 January 2005.[10]

His body was brought to his residence for people to pay their last respects, and his funeral was on 13 January 2005 at Shivaji Park crematorium.[11]

On 22 June 2019, Puri was honoured with a Google Doodle. Commemorating his 87th birthday, Google carried his picture and the accompanying text read as, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again—and you might end up like Indian film actor Amrish Puri, who overcame an early setback on the way to fulfilling his big screen dreams."[12]






  • Puri, Amrish; Sabharwal, Jyoti (2006). The Act of Life. Stellar Publishers. ISBN 978-81-90224-74-1.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mogambo Amrish Puri lives on: A tribute". Hindustan Times. 11 January 2010. Archived from the original on 16 May 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Amrish Puri is Dead". 12 January 2005. Archived from the original on 9 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor", Wikipedia, 27 January 2020, archived from the original on 11 October 2020, retrieved 29 January 2020
  4. ^ "Vardhan Puri Explains How Much He Is Like His 'Dadu' Amrish Puri". Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  5. ^ "'Yeh Saali Aashiqui' motion poster: Vardhan Puri and Shivaleeka Oberoi's debut film to release on November 22 – Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  6. ^ K. L. Saigal: The Definitive Biography. Penguin UK. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  7. ^ Singh, Aastha (12 January 2019). "Amrish Puri, Bollywood's 'Mogambo' who was more than just an iconic villain". ThePrint. Archived from the original on 30 July 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Amrish Puri- A tribute". Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. Retrieved 20 April 2006.
  9. ^ "'Mogambo' Amrish Puri's Birth Anniversary". Yahoo Movies. 22 June 2012. Archived from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  10. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India – Main News". Archived from the original on 11 December 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  11. ^ "Film Villain Amrish Puri Dies". The Washington Post. 13 January 2008. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Amrish Puri's 87th Birthday June 22,2019". Google. 22 June 2019. Archived from the original on 22 June 2019. Retrieved 22 June 2019.

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