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Om Puri

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Om Puri
Om Prakash Puri

(1950-10-18)18 October 1950
Died6 January 2017(2017-01-06) (aged 66)
Alma materFilm and Television Institute of India
National School of Drama
Years active1972–2017
Seema Kapoor
(m. 1991; div. 1991)
Nandita Puri
(m. 1993)
HonoursPadma Shri (1990)
Order of British Empire (2004)

Om Prakash Puri, OBE (18 October 1950 – 6 January 2017) was an Indian actor who appeared in mainstream commercial Hindi films as well as Urdu, Malayalam, Bengali, Kannada, English, Punjabi, Gujarati, Telugu, and Marathi films, as well as independent and art films and also starred in several international cinema. He is widely regarded as one of the finest actors in world cinema.[1][2] He won two National Film Awards for Best Actor, two Filmfare Awards and India's fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri in 1990. In 2004, he was made an honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire.[3][4]

He is best known for his author-backed roles in films like Aakrosh (1980), Arohan (1982), Ardh Satya (1983), television films like Sadgati (1981) and Tamas (1987), light-hearted roles in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983), Chachi 420 (1997), Hera Pheri (2000), Chup Chup Ke (2006) and Dhol (2007) and several mainstream commercial films throughout his career. He had various collaborations with director Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani.[5] Puri also appeared in non-Indian productions in the United States, Pakistan[6] and Britain.[7] In the 1990s, he appeared in My Son the Fanatic (1997) and the comedy drama East Is East (1999), receiving a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.[8]

Early life


Puri was born to a Hindu Family in Ambala, Haryana.[9] His father, Tek Chand Puri,[10] worked on the railways and in the Indian Army.[11] Puri's parents received no birth certificate and had no records, so his family was unsure of his birth date. But his mother told him he had been born two days after the Hindu festival Dussehra. When he began his schooling, his uncle chose 9 March 1950 as his "official" birthday. However, as an adult when he moved to Mumbai, Puri looked up when Dussehra was celebrated in 1950, to establish his birth date as 18 October.[12]

Puri came from an underprivileged background. When he was six years old, his father who was a railway employee was put behind bars on allegations of theft of cement. This resulted in their family becoming homeless. To make ends meet, Puri's brother, Ved Prakash Puri, worked as a coolie (railway porter) and Puri worked in a local tea shop,[13] did odd jobs and collected coal from nearby railways tracks to support his family.[14] He and his brother's children were later brought up by a maid servant, Shanti.[15]

While working, Puri continued to study. After his primary education, he joined the National School of Drama in Delhi to study theatre acting.[16] A fellow NSD student who became a long-term friend, Naseeruddin Shah, encouraged Puri to follow him to the Film and Television Institute of India in Poona (present-day Pune).[15][17] In an interview with The Times of India, Puri later recounted his family was so poor that he did not have a decent shirt to wear when he joined FTII. According to Shah, Puri was disappointed by his education at FTII, and also was unable to pay tuition fees—when he became well-known, the institute followed up the debt of 280, which Puri refused to pay due to the "impish thrill" of owing them money.[18]



Puri's first film was Chor Chor Chhup ja, a children's film. During this time, to make ends meet he also worked at the Actors' Studio, where future actors such as Gulshan Grover and Anil Kapoor would be his students.[13]

Subsequently, Puri worked in numerous Indian films, as well as many films produced in the United Kingdom and the United States.[19]

Puri made his debut in the mainstream films genre in the 1976 Marathi film Ghashiram Kotwal,[20][21] based on a Marathi play of the same name by Vijay Tendulkar.[21] It was directed by K. Hariharan and Mani Kaul in cooperation with 16 graduates of the FTII.[22] He has claimed that he was paid "peanuts" for his best work.[23] Along with Amrish Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil, he was among the main actors who starred in what was then referred to as art films such as Bhavni Bhavai (1980), Sadgati (1981), Ardh Satya (1982), Mirch Masala (1986) and Dharavi (1992).

He was critically acclaimed for his performances in many unconventional roles such as a victimized tribal in Aakrosh (1980);[24] Jimmy's manager in Disco Dancer (1982);[25] a police inspector in Ardh Satya (1982),[25] for which he got the National Film Award for Best Actor;[26] a humble husband in Seepeeyan (1984),[27] Vinod's uncle in Zamana the leader of a cell of Sikh militants in Maachis (1996); as a tough cop again in the commercial film Gupt in 1997; and as the courageous father of a martyred soldier in Dhoop (2003).

In 1999, Puri acted in a Kannada film A.K. 47 as a strict police officer who tries to keep the city safe from the underworld—it became a huge commercial hit. Puri's acting in the film is memorable. He rendered his own voice for the Kannada dialogues. In the same year, he starred in the successful British comedy-drama film East is East, where he played a first-generation Pakistani immigrant in Northern England,[24] struggling to come to terms with his far more westernised children.

Puri in 2009

Puri had a cameo in the highly acclaimed film Gandhi (1982, directed by Richard Attenborough).[24][28] In the mid-1990s, he diversified to play character roles in mainstream Hindi cinema, where his roles are more tuned to mass audiences than film critics. He became known internationally by starring in many British films such as My Son the Fanatic (1997), East Is East (1999)[25] and The Parole Officer (2001). He appeared in Hollywood films including City of Joy (1992),[27] opposite Patrick Swayze;[28] Wolf (1994) with Jack Nicholson;[27][28] and The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) opposite Val Kilmer.[28] In 2007, he appeared as General Zia-ul-Haq in Charlie Wilson's War, which stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.[27]

He has worked in Hindi television serials like Kakkaji Kaheen (1988) (roughly meaning "Uncle Says") as a paan-chewing 'Kakkaji', which was a parody on politicians, and Mr. Yogi (1989) as a suave 'Sutradhaar' who enjoys pulling the protagonist's leg. These two serials underlined Om Puri's versatility as a comedian. He received critical acclaim for his performance in Govind Nihalani's television film Tamas (1988)[25] based on a Hindi novel of the same name. He played comic roles in Hindi films like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro which reached a cult status,[27] followed by Chachi 420 (1997), Hera Pheri (2000), Chor Machaye Shor (2002), Deewane Hue Pagal, Chup Chup Ke, Kismet Connection and Malamaal Weekly (2006) and Oh My God. He was regular in films directed by Priyadarshan and Kamal Haasan.

His notable roles in commercial Hindi films included Drohkaal, In Custody, Narsimha, Ghayal, Mrityudand, Aastha, Hey Ram, Pyar Toh Hona Hi Tha, Farz, Gadar, Lakshya, Dev (2004), Rang De Basanti, Yuva, Singh Is Kinng, Mere Baap Pehle Aap, Billu, Kyunki, Lakshya, Dabangg, Bhaji in Problem, Khap, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Ghayal Once Again. Puri was seen in the role of Mohammad Ali Kasuri in Road to Sangam (2009). In 2010, he appeared in The Hangman. In 2011 he was in the Indian action film Don 2.

He has also worked in some episodes of the TV series Aahat during the second season which was aired between 2004 and 2005 on Sony channel. Other notable television appearances included Bharat Ek Khoj, Yatra, Mr. Yogi, Kakaji Kahin, Sea Hawks, Antaral and Savdhaan India's second season.[29]

In 2014, he appeared opposite Helen Mirren in the comedy-drama The Hundred-Foot Journey.[20][27] At the time of his death in January 2017, he was working on the Marathi film, 15 August Bhagile 26 January.[30]

Several of his completed films released after his death including Viceroy's House and Tubelight.[31]

Personal life


Puri married director/writer Seema Kapoor, the sister of actor Annu Kapoor, in 1991, but their marriage ended after eight months.[32]

In 1993, he married journalist Nandita Puri, with whom he had a son named Ishaan.[33][34] In 2009, Nandita wrote a biography of her husband titled Unlikely Hero: The Story of Om Puri. Upon the book's publication, Puri spoke of his anger at the inclusion of explicit details of his previous relationships.[35] In 2013, Nandita filed an allegation of domestic violence against him, and the two opted for a judicial separation shortly afterwards.[36]

His second wife reported that they kept a "secular house",[37] but that "while Om is not ritualistic, he does not mind others being so".[37] He took "solace in spiritual reading", particularly in the writings of spiritual teacher Eknath Easwaran, many of whose books he shared with friends.[37] Puri seldom took politics seriously, and often found relaxation by cooking or gardening.[37] In an interview to Rajya Sabha TV in 2012, Om Puri spoke about his interest in agriculture and cooking, and suggested that his dream was to open a dhaba by the name Daal Roti.[38]



In October 2016, Puri appeared for a debate on a news channel regarding a Hindi film producer's ban on Pakistani actors after the Uri attack. During the debate, he made insulting comments about Indian soldiers which led to heavy criticism on social media. However, Puri later apologised for his comments.[39]



On 6 January 2017, Puri died at the age of 66, after having a heart attack at his residence in Andheri, Mumbai.[40][41][42] He was honoured at the 89th Academy Awards in memoriam segment for his contribution in world cinema.[43]




Year Title Role Notes
1975 Kalla Kalla Bachitko
Chor Chor Chhupja
1976 Ghashiram Kotwall Ghashiram Marathi film
1977 Smothered Voices
Godhuli Yengta
1978 Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan Rajesh
Bhookh Colonel
1979 Shaayad Nandlal
Saanch Ko Aanch Nahin
1980 Sparsh Dubey
Chann Pardesi Tulsi Punjabi film
Bhavni Bhavai Maanav Bhagat Gujarati film
Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai Madhu (mechanic)
Aakrosh Lahanya Bhiku Won – Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor
1981 Hari Hondal Bargadar : Share Cropper
Kalyug Bhavani Pandey
Shodh Surendra
1982 Gandhi Nahari
Disco Dancer David Brown
Waqt-Waqt Ki Baat
Raaste Pyar Ke Suldev
Vijeta Arvind
Naseeb Ni Balihari Gujarati film
1983 Gumnaam Hai Koi
Chokh Jadunath Bengali film
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro Ahuja
Arohan Hari Mondal Won – National Film Award for Best Actor
Ardh Satya Anant Velankar Won – National Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Actor
Mandi Ram Gopal
1984 Party Avinash
Maati Maangey Khoon Durjan Singh
Duniya Vasudev
Raavan Samant
Paar Ram Naresh
Ram Ki Ganga Laalu / Lal Dandhwani
Tarang Namdev
Sheeshay Ka Ghar
Giddh Bhashya
1985 Paththar Resham Singh
Zamana Shyamlal
Bahu Ki Awaaz Advocate Jaswant Srivastav
Holi Principal Pandey
Nasoor Dr Sunil
Sanjhi Bhikhu
Aghaat Trade Unionist
Debshishu Poor Labourer
1986 Antaheen
Genesis The weaver
New Delhi Times Ajay Singh
Long Da Lishkara Dittu Punjabi film
1987 Debshishu
Mirch Masala Abu Mian
Susman Ramulu
Marte Dam Tak Daulat / D.K.
1988 Achanak
Hum Farishte Nahin Gopi / Tala Master / Murlidhar
Ek Hi Maqsad Dr. Ram Kumar Verma
Puravrutham Raman Malayalam film
1989 Shagun
Sava Ser Gehu
Ilaaka Bheema (Raja's Foster Father)
1990 Sankranti
Ghayal ACP Joe D'Souza Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor
Disha Parshuram 'Pagal Parsa' Sarpat
1991 Irada Shanker
Sam & Me Chetan Parikh English film
Narsimha Suraj Narayan Singh 'Baapji'
Meena Bazar
1992 Karm Yodha Sub-Inspector Patwardhan
Raat Sharji
Raatri Sharji Telugu film
Current Velu
City of Joy Hazari Pal English film
Ankuram Parvez Hussain Telugu film
Dharavi Rajkaran
1993 Aakanksha
Maya Memsaab
The Burning Season Rajiv Sharma
Patang Mathura
In Custody Deven
1994 Ankuram Satyam
Wolf Dr. Vijay Alezias English film
Drohkaal DCP Abhay Singh
Triyacharitra Billar
1995 Ek Ka Jawab Do
Zakhmi Sipahi Om Chaudhary
Aatank Hi Aatank Sharad Joshi
Brothers in Trouble Hussein Shah English film
Target Rambharosa
Tarpan Jassu
Kartavya Ghulam Rasul
1996 PremGranth Baliram
Krishna Minister Amar Prabhakar
The Ghost and the Darkness Abdullah English film
Maachis Sanatan Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor
Ghatak: Lethal Sachdev
Ram Aur Shyam D.I.G. Suryapratap Thakur
Talaashi Inspector Puri
1997 Zameer: The Awakening of a Soul Jaichand Marwah
Gupt: The Hidden Truth Inspector Udham Singh Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor
My Son the Fanatic Parvez English film
Bhai Advocate Satyaprakash
Chachi 420 Banwari lal-Secy
Mrityudand Rambaran Mahto
Nirnayak Inspector Nanak
Chupp Keshav Narang
Aastha Amar
1998 Vinashak – Destroyer Inspector Khan
Zor: Never Underestimate the Force Shah Alam
Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha Inspector Khan Nominated – Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor
Such a Long Journey Ghulam Mohamed English film
China Gate Col. Krishnakant Puri
1999 East Is East George Khan English film
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
A.K.47 Commissioner Yashwant Sinha Kannada film
Khoobsurat Dilip Chaudhary
Mon petit diable Tom French-Hindi Bilingual
2000 Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge Bhola Nath
Pukar Colonel Hussein
Hey Ram Subhash Goel
Hera Pheri Khadak Singh
Kunwara Balraj Singh
Kurukshetra Baburao Deshmukh
Ghaath Ajay Pandey
Zindagi Zindabad
Bas Yaari Rakho Tom
2001 Farz ACP Arjun Singh
Zahreela Arun Dev
Gadar: Ek Prem Katha Narrator
The Parole Officer George English film
Happy Now? Tin Man English film
The Zookeeper the Vet English film
The Mystic Masseur Ramlogan English film
Indian Joginder Singh
Deewaanapan Prakash Saxena - Suraj's dad
Bollywood Calling Subramaniam English film
Is Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon
2002 Pitaah Thakur Avadh Narayan Singh
Maa Tujhhe Salaam Narrator voice
Kranti Col. Krishnakanth
Ansh: The Deadly Part Bhagat Pandey
Pyaar Diwana Hota Hai Dr. S. Puri
Awara Paagal Deewana Ballu Bolbachan
Shararat DCP Bhosle
Chor Machaaye Shor DCP Pandey
Guru Mahaaguru Crocodile
Ghaav: The Wound Inspector Gautam
Dhruva Pratap Singh Kannada film
2003 Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai Sam
Kash Aap Hamare Hote Yashwant Raj Mankotia
Ek Aur Ek Gyarah: By Hook or by Crook Narrator Uncredited
Code 46 Bahkland English film
Miss India: The Mystery Inspector Yograj
Maqbool Inspector Pandit
Chupke Se Qasim Khan Qayamat
Kagaar: Life on the Edge Sub-Inspector Gokhale
Dhoop Father of Dead Military Man
Pyaar Kiya Nahin Jaata Om Prakash Khurana
2004 Yuva Prosonjit Bhatacharya
Aan: Men at Work Police Commissioner Khurana
Dev Special Commissioner Tejinder Khosla
Lakshya Subedar Maj. Pritam Singh
Kyun! Ho Gaya Na... Mr. Khanna
King of Bollywood Karan Kumar
A. K. 47 Commissioner Yashwant Sinha
Stop! Anand Mehra
2005 Zinda Dil
Kisna: The Warrior Poet Jumman Miya
Mumbai Xpress ACP S.P. Rao
Mangal Pandey: The Rising Narrator
Amar Joshi Shahid Ho Gaya Writer
Kyon Ki Dr. Khurana
Deewane Huye Paagal Mehboob / Scientist Khurana
The Hangman Shiva Sathe
2006 Rang De Basanti Amanullah Khan
Baghi Haakam Singh
Malamaal Weekly Balwant 'Balu'
Chup Chup Ke Prabhat Singh Chauhan
Baabul Balwant Kapoor
Don: The Chase Begins Again CBI Officer Vishal Malik
2007 Khallas: The Beginning of End A.C.P. Akhlaq Khan
Delhii Heights Timmy Kohli
Panga Naa Lo Kartar Singh
Fool & Final Father of Rahul / Raja
Buddha Mar Gaya Vidyut Baba / Vidya
Victoria No. 203 Rana
Dhol Tripathi
Dum Kaata Ranade / Aabu
Charlie Wilson's War Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq English film
Shoot on Sight Junaid
Welcome Narrator
2008 Yaariyan Jagpal Bir 'J.B.' Singh
Lovesongs: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow Aftab Jaffrey
Mere Baap Pehle Aap Madhav Mathur
Kismat Konnection Sanjeev Gill
Money Hai Toh Honey Hai Narrator
Singh Is Kinng Rangeela
Mukhbiir SP Intelligence — Rathod
Maharathi ACP Gokhale
2009 Chal Chala Chal Omkar Nath
Billu Sahukaar Daamchand
Delhi-6 Madan Gopal Sharma
Baabarr Daroga Chaturvedi
London Dreams Arjun's uncle
Life Goes On Alok
Kurbaan Bhaijaan
Bolo Raam Inspector Indrajeet Singh Rathi
2010 Road to Sangam Mohammad Ali Kasuri
Na Ghar Ke Na Ghaat Ke Sankata Prasad Tripathi
Kushti Jiten Singh
Dabangg Inspector Kasturilal Vishkarma
West Is West George Khan English film
Action Replayy Rai Bhahadur
2011 Teen Thay Bhai Chixie Gill
Kucch Luv Jaisaa Madhu's Father
Love Express Khadak Singh Bakshi
Bin Bulaye Baraati Sub Inspector Pralay Pratap Singh
Khap Sarpanch
Don 2: The King is Back CBI Officer Vishal Malik
Society Kaam Se Gayi
2012 Agneepath Additional Commissioner Gaitonde
Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya Chaudhary
Chaar Din Ki Chandni Fatoor Singh
Mere Dost Picture Abhi Baaki Hai Baig Saab
Krishna Aur Kans Kans Voice
Son of Flower Munshi Pyare Lal Suman
The Reluctant Fundamentalist Abu
Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal David
OMG: Oh My God! Hanif Qureshi
Chakravyuh Govind Suryavanshi
2013 Policegiri Commissioner
Jatt Boys Putt Jattan De Jora Vailly Punjabi film
Bhaji in Problem Mr. Dhingra Punjabi film
The Lovers Uncredited
2014 Heartless Dr. Sanjay Trehan
Bazaar E Husn Kishan Chand
The Hundred-Foot Journey Papa Kadam English
Aa Gaye Munde U.K. De Daleep Singh Dhillon
Little Terrors Abdul-Wadood Kamil
Chaar Sahibzaade Narrator Punjabi film
2015 Jai Jawaan Jai Kisaan Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Dirty Politics Laddu Babu aka Sai Kumar Konakandla
Leather Life Punjabi film
Jai Ho Democracy Pandeyji
Uvaa Hukum Pratap Choudhary
Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho Matang Singh
Bajrangi Bhaijaan Moulana Sahab
Welcome Back Narrator Voice
Buniyaad Bapuji Punjabi film
Hogaya Dimaagh Ka Dahi Mirza Kishan Singh Joseph
Trafficker Supreme Court Judge English language Singaporean Thai film
2016 Ghayal Once Again ACP Joe D'Souza
A Million Rivers Shiv English[44][45]
Aadupuliyattam Muni Malayalam film
Nominated – IIFA Utsavam for Performance in a Supporting Role – Male
Project Marathwada Tukaram
Waarrior Savitri Yamraj
Actor In Law Rafaqat Mirza Pakistani film[46]
A Death in the Gunj O.P Bakshi
Mirzya Munna (Lauhar)
Gandhigiri Rai Saheb
Yeh Hai Lollipop Masoom
Chaar Sahibzaade: Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur Narrator
Chapekar Brothers Bal Gangadhar Tilak[47]
2017 Prakash Electronic Narrator[48]
Viceroy's House Ali Rahim Noor Posthumous release
English film[49]
The Ghazi Attack Admiral V.S. Nanda Posthumous release
Tiger Posthumous release (Kannada film)
Tubelight Banne Chacha Posthumous release
Mr. Kabaadi Channulal Surmewala Posthumous release
2018 Lashtam Pashtam Saleem Posthumous release
Load Wedding Raja's Father Posthumous release, Pakistani film
2019 The Gandhi Murder T.G., Director General of Police Posthumous release
2020 Gul Makai General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Posthumous release
Omprakash Zindabaad Rambhajjan Posthumous release[50]
2023 Khela Hobe Fareek Bhai Posthumous release[51]


Year Title Role Notes
1981 Sadgati Dukhi Television film
1984 The Jewel in the Crown Mr De Souza British series[52]
1985 Khandaan
1988 Bharat Ek Khoj Various characters [52]
Kakaji Kahin Kakaji [52]
Tamas Nathu Television film[52]
1988–1989 Mr. Yogi Narrator [52]
1993–1994 Kirdaar Various characters [53]
1994 Woh Chokri Television film
1997 Aahat Randhir magician 1 episode
Sea Hawks Uncle Sam [54]
1999 Antaral Shreevee
2001 CID Joe Santose episodes: The Case of Counterfeit Cop Part I and II
2002 Achanak 37 Saal Baad Narrator episode 1 opening scene narration
White Teeth Samad Miah Iqbal British TV serial
2002–2003 Jasoos Vijay Presenter
2003 Second Generation Sharma Television film
The Canterbury Tales Jetender British series
2013 Hum Ne Li Hai... Shapath ACP Vishvanath Cameo

Awards and nominations


Civilian awards


Film awards

Year Category Nominated work Result
1982 Best Actor Arohan Won [56]
1984 Ardh Satya Won [57]
1981 Best Supporting Actor Aakrosh Won
1984 Best Actor Ardh Satya Nominated
1991 Best Supporting Actor Ghayal Nominated
1992 Best Performance in a Negative Role Narsimha Nominated
1997 Best Supporting Actor Maachis Nominated
1998 Best Performance in a Comic Role Chachi 420 Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Gupt: The Hidden Truth Nominated
1999 Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha Nominated
2009 Lifetime Achievement Award Won [58]
2000 Best Actor in a Leading Role East Is East Nominated
1984 Best Actor Ardh Satya Won

Other honours



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  2. ^ "Om Puri, the actor par excellence who ruled both art and commercial cinema". 18 October 2019.
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