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Who’s who of Hindi cinema turns up for Om Puri’s last rites

Anupam Kher lauds Om Puri's greatness as an actor, laments the loss of a friend.

Mayur Lookhar

The world of Hindi cinema came to a standstill today following the death of veteran actor Om Puri. His sudden death came as a shock to millions of cinema lovers in India and abroad.

Puri died at his residence in Mumbai of a massive cardiac arrest earlier in the day. He was 66. The body was taken for a post-mortem examination at Cooper Hospital, Vile Parle (West). It was brought back to his residence in the afternoon. The cremation took place at 6 pm at the Oshiwara electric crematorium.

Puri's last rites were attended by leading members of the film industry. Among them were Amitabh Bachchan, his co-star in Govind Nihalani's Dev (2004), Abhishek Bachchan, Anupam Kher, Gulzar, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Paresh Rawal, Farhan Akhtar, Sonu Nigam, Divya Dutta, Shekhar Suman, Randeep Hooda, Sonu Sood, Kabir Khan and Shakti Kapoor.

Anil Kapoor arrived later to pay his respects. Actresses Vidya Balan and Tabu visited Puri's ex-wife Nandita's residence. The absence of Puri's closest friend and collaborator, Naseeruddin Shah, however, came as a surprise.

Speaking to reporters later, Kher said, “He was always smiling, laughing. He believed in kindness and generosity. He was the first actor I worked with who was effortless."

Kher said Puri was perhaps the first Hindi film actor "to break the myth that an actor needs to have a certain look to succeed. I always used to tell him that he didn’t appear great while shooting, but when I see the same shot on screen, you appear magnificent. He used to say there is something like personality and talent.”

Kher added, “It is sad that we summarize a person’s journey when he is gone. When I look back at him, I feel he was one of the finest actors. Superstars will come and go, but actors will stay. Om Puri’s contribution to Indian cinema is immense. We have all lost a great friend and I feel sad about that.”

Om Puri made his debut in 1976 with the Marathi film Ghashiram Kotwal, based on Vijay Tendulkar's famous play of the same name. Since then he was continuously working till the last few days of his life. He shot for Kabir Khan’s Tubelight, starring Salman Khan, just a few days ago. The film is due for release on Eid this year.