The Habitat Film Festival paid homage to one of the most talented and celebrated actors of Indian cinema, Om Puri, who passed away early this year.
One of the finest Indian actors to garner acclaim across multiple genres and to have straddled his career in Hollywood and British cinema with ease, Puri could bring alive every character that he played.Advertisement
Speaking at the opening of the 'Retrospective' of Puri’s films, veteran director Govind Nihalani reminisced about the actor’s warm personality and his dedication to his craft.
Puri acted in Nihalani’s debut film, Aakrosh, which won the National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. He then went on to work in several of his films including the hard hitting telefilm on the Partition, Tamas; Ardh Satya, and Dev, amongst others.
Nihalani said that he was thankful that Puri had acted in so many of his films and had given outstanding performances which contributed immensely to the impact that his films had.
Puri often played characters who struggled to achieve things. This was quite personal as in his own life, he had experienced many hardships and seen troubled times. But this struggle also enabled him to become emblematic of a certain time which the audiences could identify with. Highlighting this, Nihalani spoke of him as being the face of the times in which he lived, “Just as Dilip Kumar’s persona conjures up a romantic era of cinema, Om Puri’s face conjures up a different period and kind of cinema”.
He also foregrounded Puri’s extraordinary compassion, his identification with his characters, and the tremendous empathy that informed all his work. “In his hands”, as Nihalani put it, “the characters became real and came alive”.