Om Puri: The Pockmarked Face That Launched A Thousand Characters

A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature

By Nataranjan Bohidar

Om Puri, Ardh Satya, Angry Police Officer

OM's is the pockmarked face that launched a thousand characters and burnt the topless towers of Bollywood stars... Starting somewhere behind Naseer... he did some forgettable two-bit Ollywood*, too... in the late Seventies (watch SPARSH) , he bulletted fast forward into the hearts of audiences by portraying Indian characters that he was not... check out JBDY, A'SATYA, S'GATI, NASOOR, TAMAS, GANDHI... WHICH IS THE TRUE TEST OF CHARACTER...his better known movies are , of course, better known... FOR THE WRONG REASONS... THE REAL REASON BEING THAT OM'S ACTING WAS INVARIABLY BIGGER THAN THE MOVIES HE ACTED IN...SAMPLE "ARDH SATYA" FOR EXAMPLE**... His domestic troubles recently - of comic stature - only bear witness to the fact that Bollywood is quite easily the most beguiled be-fooled bedeviled bubble among film industries in the world...try realism as hard as you might in there, you will never learn that acting drunk when you are sober is easier done than acting sober when you are drunk***... and so, OM's true decline began as he tried to climb the steps to the Anna Hazare stage set up on Ram Lila Grounds in Delhi... before AAP was even imagined... and cracked up on the silly joke of "Krane" Bedi - even when Kiran Bedi was deadly serious when she craned off Indira Gandhi's wrongly parked vehicle, signalling the first ever historic fracas between V.I.P culture and the common man...- OM not realizing that political performances can backfire if you make public fun, even gentle sardonic humor, about your colleagues...and sometimes failing to notice in his later life that his popularity was because he was on the commoner's side...the tribal, the rural, the small towner... trapped in the city... spewing auteur at his sexual escapades in a book on his life was simply playing out of character in real life... Notwithstanding that, RIP, OM... we will continue to turn Naseer's phrase to mean that the two true greats of the graduation combo of NSD +FTII are OM & Naseer... and sigh at the thought that now there is only one! 

*Odiya Hollywood: but not known as such at that time ...when OM made foray into some mystical magical story concoction.. IS BETTER CALLED "ODLYWOOD" NOW , if you ask me...

**Neither Deepa in "Tamas" nor Smita in "Ardh Satya" could hold a candle to this fine actor among men working opposite him! He simply shone on his own...Unlike Naseer in "Paar" and "Sparsh" where Shabana truly steadied the boat...holding her own...Essentially OM stole frame after frame from his co-actors... including the riveting scene in GANDHI , where he stole from Ben Kingsley, in open sight... No director could handle OM's intensity..although Govind did try... 

*** Shah Rukh Khan to note... another stadium, another city!

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  1. Without doubt he is one of the greatest actors that India has produced so far. One of my all time favorites. May his soul rest in peace.


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