Om Puri, acting powerhouse was born in 1950 to a Punjabi family living in Haryana. He studied acting at the famous Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. Before that, he was a student at Delhi's National School of Drama. His classmates included Naseeruddin Shah, who, like Mr Puri, took lead roles in non-commercial films to start with and played the protagonist in powerful films that depicted class warfare and the common man's fight for survival amid unrelenting corruption.
The actor, who passed away on 6th January, 2017 Friday morning after suffering a heart attack at the age of 66, always maintained a great balance between commercial cinema and new wave films. From Ardh Satya to Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, his films have mostly hit a right chord with the audience. Here's a look at some of his best performances in cinema.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983): It is almost difficult to control your laughter in the Mahabharata scene from Jaane Di Bhi Yaaron. Known for doing some serious roles, Om Puri surprised everyone with his performance in Kundan Shah's film. As builder Ahuja in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Om tickled the funny bone and till now it remains one of his best performances in cinema.
Ardh Satya (1983): This Govind Nihalani film shows the struggle of honest cop Om Puri as he fights the corrupt system and the battle within. Ardh Satya won him the National Award for the second year in a row.
Aakrosh (1980): He played a victimized tribal in the film which was released in 1980. This Hindi arthouse film was directed by Govind Nihalani and written by renowned Marathi playwright Vijay Tendulkar.The film featured Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Amrish Puri in lead roles and bagged 1980 National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi and several Filmfare Awards.
Arohan (1982): Arohan won Om Puri the coveted National Award for Best Actor for his poignant performance as the oppressed farmer who is engaged in a 14-year-long battle with a wealthy landowner (Victor Banerjee) for a piece of land that is rightfully his.
Sadgati (1981): Satyajit Ray's film is a vicious indictment of the Indian caste system which showed Om Puri as an out-caste. His spectacular performance was much appreciated critically.
Chachi 420 (1997): Om Puri yet again tickled the funny bone with his fabulous performance in Chachi 420. It is for the first time that Om Puri and Kamal Haasan shared the screen space and their on-screen camaraderie worked wonders at the box office.
Mirch Masala (1987): He played the brave old guard who doesn’t let Subhedar's friends enter the spice factory. He claims the women inside the spice factory are like his own daughters and dares Subhedar's friends to enter the factory. The film was set in Colonial India in the early 1940s. Directed by Ketan Mehta, it featured Naseeruddin Shah and Smita Patil in the lead roles.
East is East: This comedy drama revolved around a mixed-ethnicity household which is led by a Pakistani father and an English mother. The film bagged multiple awards for the best film, story, screenplay and direction. The film also got a sequel called West is West (2010).
City of Joy: This 1992 French-British drama film was directed by Roland Joffé. Its screenplay was written by Mark Medoff. It was based on the novel of the same name by Dominique Lapierre. The film featured Patrick Swayze, Om Puri and Shabana Azmi.
Drohkaal: This crime drama film was directed and produced by Govind Nihalani. The film dealt with India's battle against terrorism. It also examined the mental and psychological trauma that honest police officers experienced in their fight against a group of ruthless terrorists.