M A I N   N E W S

Amrish Puri dead

Mumbai, January 12
Veteran film actor Amrish Puri, who through his distinct style coupled with a husky voice lent a new touch to the character of the villain — the most famous as the evil “Mogambo” in “Mr India” — died at a city hospital following a brain haemorrhage here today.

The 72-year-old actor had been suffering from myclodisplastic syndrome, a blood disorder, and had undergone some brain invasive surgery for his condition after he was admitted to the Hinduja hospital on December 27, Dr Anupam Verma of the hospital said.

“His condition required frequent removal of the blood accumulated in the cerebral region of the brain,” he said adding that he had slipped into coma before his death.

He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. Family sources said he had also suffered two bouts of malaria, including falciperum malaria, and had recently fallen down and suffered a head injury. His end came around 7.30 am.

His body would be brought to his residence for people to pay their last respects and the funeral would be held at 2.30 pm tomorrow at Shivaji Park crematorium.

Amrish Puri, the younger brother of character actor Madan Puri, made his Bollywood debut at the age of 40 with “Reshma aur Shera”.

He subsequently featured in Shyam Benegal’s films like “Nishant” and “Manthan”.

In a career spanning over three decades, Puri acted in over 200 films, notable ones being “Vidhata”, “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge” and “Chachi 420”.— PTI


‘An actor and a friend’

Mumbai, January 12
A pall of gloom descended on the Hindi film industry here today on the demise of veteran actor Amrish Puri, who, in his career spanning over three decades, carved out a niche for himself in Bollywood as a star villain.

Former Censor Board chief Anupam Kher said Amrish Puri was a superstar in the niche of character actors and was one of best screen villains to hit the celluloid screen after stalwarts like Pran.

Kher said: “He was one of the finest human beings, who was not only very affectionate but responsible and caring as well.”

“I normally never touch anyone’s feet, but he is one person I revered and touched his feet because he commanded that kind of respect. I looked up to him as an elder brother and we shared common bond because of our theatre background and our Shimla origin,” he said.

“In fact even his persona was larger than life. Professionwise, he was very methodical. Though he was one of the actors to work in mainstream international film with Stephen Speilberg, he was very humble,” Kher said.

“He filled the gap after Pran left the scene. He was a towering personality who gave a realistic portrayal to his role,” he added.

Director Govind Nihalani described the death as a shock and personal loss to him. “He was like an elder brother to me. When I met him in the hospital a few days ago, he was week but alert and full of humour.”

Filmmaker Yash Chopra said he had no words to express his sorrow. “Our association dates back to when he was a theatre actor.”

Chopra, who cast him in films “Mashaal” and “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge”, described Puri as a committed and focused actor with an eye for details.

Bollywood showman Subhash Ghai said the passing away of Puri was not only a loss to the film industry but also a huge loss to him emotionally. “At this moment, I can think of him as the best at all levels — a human, an actor and a friend.”

“He plays a villain in ‘Kisna’ (Ghai’s forthcoming release) with full gusto and will power despite being ill for a year,” he said.

Shyam Benegal remembered the actor as a fine human being and a brilliant actor. “I knew him for the last 40 years. Beginning as a theatre actor, I cast him in my second film ‘Nishant’ and he had never looked back since. He was down to earth and always happy to be part of my later films,” Benegal said.

Mithun Chakravarty said Amrish Puri was a great actor and a fine human being.

New Delhi: Information and Broadcasting Minister S. Jaipal Reddy described Puri as a “versatile actor and a fine human being” and said in his death the Indian film industry had suffered an irreparable loss.

In a message, Reddy said: “Amrish Puri was not only a versatile artiste but also a fine human being with sterling qualities of heart. He was known for his progressive social views.”

“I am shocked to know that veteran film actor Amrish Puri is no longer with us. I deeply regret his demise and express my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family,” he said.

Mr Reddy said the actor was equally superb in comic roles.

Maharashtra Governor S.M. Krishna in his condolence message said it was “a great loss for the Hindi film industry”.

Expressing profound shock and grief, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh in his message remembered Puri as a versatile actor with professionalism and talent.

Andhra Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy said the actor had left an indelible impression on the Indian cinema.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav extolled Puri as a top class actor who gave a new face to the Indian cinema. — PTI, UNIBack


Actor who was revered more than feared

“What a gentleman... and such a nice man to know,” says writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar, summing up the dismay in the film industry over the death of Amrish Puri, one of Bollywood’s most revered and in-demand character actors.

Javed has been inundated with requests from television channels for sound bytes on “bad-man” Puri.

“After the third or fourth homage you begin to feel you’re faking the words. That shouldn’t be, especially when it comes to someone as honourable as Amrishji. He was not just a brilliant actor, he was also a wonderful person.”

Kamal Haasan smiles at the memory of his friend. “Puri Saab was my leading man in ‘Chachi 420’. I masqueraded as a woman and he was the man who fancied me. Saab was as usual, flawless. Since ‘Chachi 420’, we kept in touch constantly. A true gentleman-actor.”

One of three brothers, Amrish’s elder brothers Chaman and Madan Puri were actors long before him.

At age 40, a career as an actor came belatedly to Puri. His first screen appearance was in Sunil Dutt’s “Reshma aur Shera” in 1971 where he made his debut alongside Amitabh Bachchan.

Coincidentally, they are regarded as two of the best voices ever heard in Hindi cinema. And it couldn’t be mere chance that a fortnight before his death, Puri’s baritone provided the voiceover in “Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyon” which starred Amitabh Bachchan.

Puri first made audiences and critics sit up and take notice in Shyam Benegal’s “Nishant” in 1975 where he played an immoral “zamindar”. Success in avant-garde cinema was instant, though the same cannot be said about mainstream cinema.

“Those weren’t easy years for me,” the actor with the booming baritone said to me once.

“Recognition was hard to come by, and I had a family to support. I took on any and every villain’s role that came my way.” After struggling through years of small and not-so-small diabolic roles, the actor became a household name with “Mr India” where he played the infamous cartoon-like villain “Mogambo” in 1987.

Not since Gabbar Singh in “Sholay” had villainy in Hindi screen acquired such a swaggering, contemporary and quirky aura.

After playing the villain in innumerable films, Puri’s career was injected with new life when he did Kuku Kohli’s “Phool Aur Kaante” and Priyadarshan’s “Muskurahat” in 1992.

The two flicks cast Puri in non-villainous pivotal roles that catapulted him to the top as Bollywood’s most in-demand character actor.

Seldom, if ever, did an actor other than the leading man acquire the respect and command the fee of Amrish Puri.

Whether as the homesick NRI in Aditya Chopra’s “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge”, the benevolent feudal landlord in Priyadarshan’s “Viraasat”, Sunny Deol’s terminally ill, idealistic father in Raj Kumar Santoshi’s “Ghaatak” or Amisha Patel’s anti-India father in Anil Sharma’s “Gadar: Ek Prem Katha”, Puri created a gallery of characters that count among the most memorable in the history of mainstream Hindi cinema.

He was rightly very proud and possessive of his celebrated voice. I remember after an interview he requested me to erase his voice from the tape. “I don’t want people to get their hands on my voice. Who knows how it may be used?” he had wondered.

The voice is gone. And so is the man who made three words emblematic of evil joy: “Mogambo khush hua!” An era in character acting has ended with Amrish Puri. — IANS

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