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Om Puri: An acting giant who traversed both East and West

NEW DELHI: A giant of parallel and new wave cinema, Om Puri delivered some stellar performances in “Ardh Satya”, “Aakrosh” and “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron” while being equally at home with Bollywood potboilers and Hollywood movies such as “East Is East” and “City of Joy”.

With his instantly recognisable rich baritone and chameleon-like ability to transform on-screen, 66-year-old Puri was at ease playing an angst-laden police officer in “Ardh Satya” to the comic role of a corrupt builder Ahuja in “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro”.

He was the major face of the parallel cinema movement alongside his contemporaries Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil, working collectively in some of the biggest Indian classics like “Bhumika”, “Aakrosh”, “Sparsh”, “Bhavni Bhavai”, “Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai”, “Mirch Masala”, “Sadgati”, “Arohan”, “Ardh Satya” and “Mandi”.

The actor, who starred in around 300 movies, won the National Film Award for best actor for his role as a police inspector in the 1982 film “Ardh Satya”. He also received the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India in the year 1990.

After the end of art cinema movement, Puri shifted to mainstream cinema where he did memorable character roles while continuing to give noteworthy performances in films like “Vijeta”, “Ghayal”, “Droh Kaal”, “Maachis”, “Ghatak: Lethal”, “Chachi 420”, “Khoobsurat”, “Pukar”, “Hera Pheri” and “Dev”.

Puri had appeared in the 2015 Salman Khan movie “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”. He played the part of a progressive imam, who protects Bajrangi and Munni from the Pakistani security forces and offers them refuge at the madrassa he teaches in.

After “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, he teamed up with Salman and Kabir Khan again in “Tubelight”, which is expected to release on Eid 2017.

The actor was recently in line of fire owing to his comments on Indian soldiers following the Uri attack.