I just got a panicked text from a friend “Om Puri died?!?!?” And then another text with every emoticon available. Which is kind of how I feel. Confused, sad, angry, unsure. I liked a lot of Om Puri’s characters, and he was a good actor. But his personal life was confusing and unpleasant in a way that kind of affected his characters for me.
Most recently Om was in the news for a kind of rambling and odd insulting statement about the Indian army. More than the statement, it was part of a TV appearance, and he just looked odd. Didn’t seem to be focusing on the camera, got up and walked away without fully answering a question, odd!
I wonder if we will discover his death was related to a progressive disease of some kind? Something that was already apparent in this appearance months back?
But I doubt it is anything that happened years back, which is why I have issues with him. There were stories of spousal abuse back, oh, 5 years ago I want to say? And my issue is less with what he may or may not have done, but that he seemed to react in such a dismissive and defensive way.
On the other hand, like I said, I’ve really liked a lot of his performances. Don, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Singh is King, he’s done so much! And he was a “cross-over” star before there were cross-overs! Doing films for the BBC, for Hollywood, for everybody, at the same time as back home.
But his most important work is probably his early Indian work. Back in the 80s, when parallel cinema was having a bit of a Golden Age, he was an important part of it. Films like Bhumika, Aakrosh, even Jaane Bhi do Yaaro, he was in them all. For that alone, he will always have a place in Indian film history.
Well, that and this: