Who can forget the untouchable in Tamas? Nathu (Om Puri), a Chamar, is finishing his work in his shop when the thekedar (Pankaj Kapur) walks in and asks him to kill a pig for the Veterinary doctor who needs it for medical purposes. Nathu tries to decline saying he has never killed a pig but is offered 5 rupees. The scene that follows where he kills the pig is unforgettable.
Can we forget the plight of Satyam in the Telugu classic, Ankuram? The film is so sensitively acted by Om Puri as the tribal who loses his wife and is tortured by police. His child is in the loving care of the heroine, played by Revathi, the Tamil actress. They taught many how real acting is done.
Or the rollicking comedy, ‘Jaane bhi do yaaron’ with its superb crew. Who can make us laugh like that again?
Om Puri is rightly one of the best actors that Indian cinema can boast of. Along with the great actors of his time, Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil, Om Puri was one of the main stalwarts of parallel Indian cinema. His performances in critically-acclaimed films like Ardh Satya, Sadgati, Paar, Aakrosh. Mirch Masala are evergreen.
In the award winning film, City of Joy, he almost missed an Oscar. The story goes that he was mistook for a rickshaw puller in Calcutta while shooting the film. The New York Times reviewer wrote, ‘Puri’s performance will make you cry.’ Patrick Swayze had also remarked at a press conference in Australia that ‘If anyone deserves an Oscar this year, it is Om.’
As long as good cinema lives, Om Puri will live on.