India Habitat Center and GraFTII North (Alumni Body of Film and Television Institute of India- FTII) in collaboration with Directorate of Film Festivals and British Council India celebrates and pays homage to one of the most talented and celebrated actors and alumnus of FTII - Om Puri, who passed away prematurely in January this year.
Om Puri was of the finest Indian actors to stride across multiple facets of cinema – from Bollywood to art films, from British Asian immigrant films to big Hollywood productions. Though Om’s debut started with low budget Indian art films he acted in some 300 films, winning several national and International awards and honors.
What makes Om Puri’s story inspiring is that he came from an underprivileged background, nearly homeless family, working from age 7 in doing humble chores helping support his family. Not only he had adverse economic situation, he was also possessed of looks that were completely opposite to what the film industry would prescribe for a leading actor in films, which is what he felt he wanted to do. However, while working as a child, Om Puri also continued to study. After schooling, he joined the National School of Drama and thereafter, Film and Television Institute of India, where he found was unable to pay for his study fees. When Om passed out from FTII in 1976, he got a role in a Marathi film Ghasi Ram Kotwal with over a dozen graduates of FTII participating. He was noticed by cinematographer Govind Nihalani, who was himself making his debut in film direction and he cast Om Puri in his film Aakrosh in 1980. Om Puri’s performance and his anguished cry at the end of the film brought him critical acclaim and audience appreciation as also other films Ardh Satya, Aarohan, Sadgati and other films that followed. His work was noticed by commercial mainstream Indian cinema and he got many roles. Irrespective of the length of the role or type of character, Om Puri always made his presence felt, whether it was comedy, as lead or as supporting actor. International films followed and for his work in several British films he was honoured with the Order of British Empire.
Om Puri was awarded National Film Award for Best Actor twice for Ardh Satya and Aarohan which are both featured in this retrospective. He received Padma honour. As a tribute to his work in UK, the British film East is East is featured too in the retrospective.
Specially joining us in the retrospective is distinguished film director Govind Nihalani who photographed him in Aarohan and directed him too in Aakrosh, Ardh Satya, and Dev among other films. From Aakrosh to Dev, is a journey that surely is very memorable and Director Govind Nihalani will share his association with the actor.
Om Puri has left behind a legacy and huge body of work and this retrospective is our tribute as well as a celebration of his life and work.