Divya Kapoorwrote on Aug 11 2008 7:11PM
Om Puri, fondly called Guddu, was born on October 18, 1950 in Ambala, Haryana. He grew up planning to be a military man like his father. His ambitions shifted when he joined a theatre group, early in school at Sinnaur, near Patiala. His first venture was “Zaildar” by Kapoor Singh Ghuman. In college he did several plays. It was during that period that he met Harpal and Neena Tiwana at a prize distribution function. Later, he joined their theatrical group, Punjab Kala Manch, and worked with them for three years. Om Puri then went to the National School of Drama (NSD), Delhi. He was an alumnus of the 1973 batch, where Naseeruddin Shah was his batch mate. Thereafter, he enrolled himself in the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, from where he graduated in 1976. For a year and a half, he taught at a studio. Then he floated his own theatre group, Majmah.
Om Puri made his debut in films with Ghashiram Kotwal in 1976. It was a historical film, based on a Marathi play of the same name. The movie failed to gather much attention from the audience.
Puri next featured in Godhuli (1977), alongside Naseeruddin Shah and Kulbhushan Kharbanda. The movie was critically acclaimed. Shyam Benegal’s Bhumika: The Role (1977), also starring Smita Patil and Naseeruddin Shah, won many accolades. Puri completed his hat-trick of great masterpieces with Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan (1978) which again was widely appreciated. In 1979, Om Puri featured in Saanch Ko Aanch Nahin, also starring Arun Govil and Madhu Kapoor. The movie didn’t do too well. Next, he starred in Govind Nihalani’s Aakrosh (1980) which won several awards. This film won Puri wide recognition and appreciation.
In 1980, Om Puri peformed in Ketan Mehta’s Bhavani Bhavai (which literally means 'Play of Lifespan’), the critically acclaimed film Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, and the award-winning Sparsh. Om Puri played a pivotal role in Satyajit Ray’s critically acclaimed film Sadgati (1981). He also did Shyam Benegal’s Kalyug (1981) which was again an award-winner. Govind Nihalani’s Vijeta (1982), also starring Shashi Kapoor and Rekha, bagged many awards as well. Om Puri won huge appreciation for his performance in Shyam Benegal’s next film Arohan (1982). Puri had a shockingly emotional cameo in the International blockbuster and acclaimed film Gandhi, by Richard Attenborough in 1982. Govind Nihalani’s Ardh Satya (1983) won Puri many accolades again. Shyam Benegal cast him in his next classic film Mandi (1983). Chokh (1983), also starring Anil Chatterjee, was critically acclaimed. Quite surprisingly, Puri was seen in the comedy flick Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983), directed by Kundan Shah. The movie is considered as one of the all-time best comedies. Entering into mainstream cinema, Puri starred in Disco Dancer (1983), along with Mithun Chakraborty and Kim. The movie was very popular and so was its music. He also starred in Ram Ki Ganga (1984) and Holi (1984) which didn’t do that well. Puri worked again with Govind Nihalani in Party (1984) and in Aghaat (1986) which were again critically successful. Paar (1984) also was widely appreciated. He then did Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala (1985), also starring Smita Patil, which was another brilliant film. Romesh Sharma’s New Delhi Times (1986), starring Shashi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore in lead roles, was an award-winner. Puri was then seen in a few flops like Marte Dam Tak (1987), Goraa (1987), Hum Farishte Nahin (1988), and Ilaaka (1989). Rajkumar Santoshi’s Ghayal (1990), also starring Sunny Deol and Meenakshi Sheshadri, was Puri’s first high-grossing film. It was a huge hit and critically acclaimed as well. Puri won many accolades for his performance in N.Chandra’s Narasimha (1991). Iraada (1991) and Meena Bazar (1991) flopped. Sudhir Mishra’s Dharavi (1992) was another classic film. Angaar (1992), starring Jackie Shroff and Dimple Kapadia in lead roles, did average business although it was critically acclaimed. Puri also did Govind Nihalani’s Karm Yodha (1992), which unfortunately failed. He then featured in Ram Gopal Varma’s horror flick Raat (1992). He then did Ismail Merchant’s In Custody (1993), which didn’t gain much attention. Ketan Mehta’s Maya (1993), also starring Shah Rukh Khan and Deepa Sahi, was a flop. Puri then did Govind Nihalani’s Droh Kaal (1994) which was another critical success. He then starred in action flicks like Raj Kanwar’s Kartavya (1995), Rajnikanth-Aamir Khan starrer Aatank Hi Aatank (1995) and Suniel Shetty starrer Krishna (1996), all of which faired about average to poor at the box-office. Rajiv Kapoor’s Prem Granth (1996) was a big flop. Gulzar’s Maachis (1996), also starring Tabu and Chandrachur Singh, was a huge critical success. Rajkumar Santoshi’s Ghatak: Lethal (1996) was a big hit. He then appeared in a couple of flops, viz. Ram Aur Shyam (1996) and Bhai (1997). Rajiv Rai’s thriller Gupt: The Hidden Truth (1997) was a big hit, and won Puri wide appreciation. He also played the lead along with Rekha in Basu Bhattacharya’s Aastha: In The Prison Of Spring (1997) which didn’t do too well. Sunny Deol starrer Zor (1998) was a flop. Kamal Hassan’s Chachi 420 (1998) and Rajkumar Santoshi’s China Gate (1998) won Puri critical acclaim. Anees Bazmee’s Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha (1998) was a huge hit. Puri also featured in Sanjay Chel’s Khoobsurat (1999) which was a nice family entertainer. He then featured in few other comedies like Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge (2000), the critically acclaimed Hera Pheri (2000) and Kunwara (2000). He also did Rajkumar Santoshi’s critically acclaimed film Pukar (2000).
Kamal Hassan’s Hey Ram (2000) was another critical success for Puri. He then appeared in a few action flicks like Kurukshetra (2000), Ghaath (2000) and Farz (2001), all of which faired below average. He was back into action with Indian which was a hit (2001), while Deewanapan (2001) and Kranti (2002) faired below average. Vikram Bhatt’s comedy-cum-action flick Awara Paagal Deewana (2002) did good business, while Anubhav Sinha’s Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai (2003) was strictly okay. Puri then featured in the critically acclaimed Maqbool (2003), directed by Vishal Bharadwaj. He did another comedy flick The King Of Bollywood (2004) which was a big flop. Puri then appeared in other critically acclaimed films like Dhoop (2003), Mani Ratnam’s Yuva (2004), Govind Nihalani’s Dev (2004) and Farhan Akhtar’s Lakshya (2004). He starred in a couple of flicks with Vivek Oberoi, viz. Kyun…! Ho Gaya Na (2004) and Kisna: The Warrior Poet (2005). Both films flopped badly. Priyadarshan’s Kyon Ki (2005) flopped, though Puri’s performance was quite appreciated. Vikram Bhatt’s Deewane Huye Paagal (2005) flopped as well. 2006 was a great year for Om Puri with 3 big hits, viz. Rang De Basanti, Malamaal Weekly and Don. Chup Chup Ke did average buiness, while Baabul flopped. 2007 wasn’t a great year as Puri had quite a few flops like Buddha Mar Gaya, Fool N Final, Delhii Heights, and Victoria No.203: Diamonds Are Forever. Priyadarshan’s Dhol was an average affair.
In 2008, Om Puri was seen in comic roles in Priyadarshan's Mere Baap Pehle Aap and Anees Bazmee's Singh Is Kinng.
In 1981, Om Puri won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor for Aakrosh (1980). He won the National Award in 1982 for Best Actor for Arohan (1982). In 1984, he won the National Award for Best Actor for Ardh Satya (1983). He won in 1984, the Best Actor Award for Ardh Satya (1983) at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. In 1998, he won the Crystal Star Award at the Brussels International Film Festival for Best Actor for his performance in My Son The Fanatic (1997).
Om Puri is married to Nandita. He always stressed on the promotion of art in the film industry. Due to his regional sentiments, he worked in three Punjabi movies Chann Pardesi, Long Da Lashkara and Baaghi. His credits also include appearances i