Guest Blogger: Om Puri
Om Puri was born in Patiala, Punjab, to a Khatri family and is a Hindu by religion. His father worked in the railways and in the Indian Army. Puri graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India. He is also an alumnus of the 1973 class of National School of Drama where Naseeruddin Shah was a co-student. Puri has worked in numerous Indian films and in many films produced in the United Kingdom and the United States. He made his film debut in the 1976 Marathi film Ghashiram Kotwal, based on a Marathi play of the same name. This Marathi film was directed by K. Hariharan and Mani Kaul in cooperation with 16 graduates of the FTII and was based on the play of the same name by Vijay Tendulkar. He has collaborated with Amrish Puri as well as Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil in art films such as Bhavni Bhavai (1980), Sadgati (1981), Ardh Satya (1982),Mirch Masala (1986) and Dharavi (1992).
Puri had a cameo in the highly acclaimed film Gandhi (1982, directed by Richard Attenborough). 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) and The Parole Officer (2001). He appeared in Hollywood films including City of Joy (1992), opposite Patrick Swayze; Wolf (1994) alongside Jack Nicholson; and The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) opposite Val Kilmer. In 2007, he appeared as General Zia-ul-Haq in Charlie Wilson’s War, which stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.
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 him performance in Govind Nihalani’s television film Tamas(1987) based on a Hindi novel of the same name. He essayed comic roles in Hindi films like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro which reached a cult status, followed by Chachi 420 (1997), Hera Pheri (2000), Chor Machaye Shor (2002) and Malamaal Weekly (2006).