2016 saw the passing of quite a few legends, Gene Wilder and George Michael being ones that affected me the most. With 2016 behind us, I was honestly hoping for a reprieve but 2017 has already started on a sad note. On January 6th, we lost another legendary actor Om Puri at the age of 66. Heart attack they say, but 66 is not the age to die. It’s the age to revel in your wins, to do a few select films that you can choose because, well you can. It’s the age to hang out with your friends, fellow actors and reminisce about the good old days. Guess it wasn’t what was on the cards for Om-ji.
As I think back to what I know of this personality, I believe my lasting memory of Om-ji is of his voice. It had a certain depth, his diction – pitch perfect, his grasp of the role, immaculate! Aakrosh was the first movie I watched and ever since I’ve been in awe of his skills! I hope they have this with subtitles online somewhere because I would recommend this as a MUST watch!
Om-ji is what they call a once-in-a-lifetime actor. No role was too big or too small for him. If the script appealed to him, he was game even if it meant playing a character with limited screen time. From his debut in a Marathi film in 1976 to the critically acclaimed Gandhi in 1982 to the varied TV series like Kakkaji Kaheen and Mr Yogi, his versatility and his ability to juggle serious roles with just as much ease as his comic roles, won him respect in the film industry. He was all over the map literally. His latest ventures were the 2014 movie, The Hundred Foot Journey alongside Helen Mirren and the 2016 Jungle Book, where he lent his voice to Bagheera in the Hindi dubbed version. For a man with mediocre looks at best, he worked his way to the top with surprising alacrity and a grounded attitude that served him well and often in his favor.
I feel like there is so much to write about him, that he left his own story unfinished but words fail me. I think his movies will probably do a better job than anything I can say. So here are some of my favorite movies. Guess it’s time to start watching them so I can pay homage to an artist I admired all these years. RIP Om-ji.
- Ardha Satya
- Maya Memsaab
- The Ghost and the Darkness (although Val Kilmer had the lead role here)
- The Hundred Foot Journey