Puri’s screen presence was unparalleled .
There are a few Indian Actors who have made their presence felt in international films and this elite club includes veterans like Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Anil Kapoor, Irfan Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and the new breed of actors like Deepika Padukone, Aishwarya Rai, and Priyanka Chopra.
What made Om Puri special was his forte in conveying messages to the audience through expressions rather than dialogues. His porous looking face and serious demeanor were some of the features that made him instant pick for directors. Puri as an actor can be compared to a film roll as characters used to embody him just like a blank film when exposed to a frame.
Puri has always believed that film is a creative medium which should be given full freedom so that artists can express what they feel about the world around. Puri was against the idea of clamping the creative thinking of artists. While his heart and soul went along with art films, he appeared in a number of feature films too. When asked if the feature films failed to use his talent, Puri replied that it was he who used feature films for survival.
Let’s see some of the top English movies that utilized the acting talent of Om Puri:
The Hundred-Foot Journey
The Hundred-Foot Journey, a 2014 American comedy-drama produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Lasse Hallström was an adapted from Richard Morais’ 2010 novel of the same name. Om Puri played the role of Papa Kadam in the movie.
Charlie Wilson’s War
Om Puri appeared in the 2007 American Comedy movie Charlie Wilson’s which is based on the lives of U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson and CIA operative Gust Avrakotos. Puri played the role of former President of Pakistan Zia-ul-Haq in the movie that portrays the efforts led to Operation Cyclone, a program to organize and support the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet–Afghan War.
Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi is considered as one of the ever time best biopics and Om Puri became part of this epic movie in which he played a cameo role as a young distraught father who lost his son in communal violence. Puri throws a gun on Gandhi and says “eat, eat. I’m going to hell, but not with your death on my soul” a scene that talks aloud about his caliber as an actor.
The Ghost and the Darkness
The Ghost and the Darkness directed by Stephen Hopkins starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas was a movie based on the events that happened in 1898 in Kenya where two lions attacked and killed workers building the Uganda-Mombasa Railway. Puri played the role of a village man named Abdullah in the movie.
City of Joy
City of Joy is a 1992 French-British drama film directed by Roland Joffé based on the novel written by Dominique Lapierre of the same name. The movie deals with the poverty in then India, specifically the life of poor in the slums. Om Puir plays the role of Hasari Pal, a rural farmer who moves to Calcutta with his wife.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Directed by Indian American Mira Nair, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a 2012 political thriller drama film based on Mohsin Hamid’s novel by the same name. The movie stars Riz Ahmed and Kate Hudson in lead. Puri played the role of an elderly poet in the movie.
The Mystic Masseur
The Mystic Masseur is a 2001 Merchant Ivory film based on the novel of the same name by V. S. Naipaul.
Wolf is a 1994 American romantic horror film directed by Mike Nichols. Puri plays the role of an aging doctor named Dr. Vijav Alezais, who tries to protect the protagonist from turning completely into a wolf.
Solar Eclipse-Depth of Darkness
Solar Eclipse-Depth of Darkness is an yet to be released Hollywood historic movie that features Om Puri. The film is based world politics during the years following Indian independence and partition. Om Puri plays a pivotal role in this movie which is scheduled to release in 2017.
Sam & Me
Sam & Me is a 1991 debut movie of Indo-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta. The film that portrays the life of an Indian Immigrant went on to win an honorable mention at the Cannes Film Festival.