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Puri, Om (1950-)


Main image of Puri, Om (1950-)

By the mid-1980s, Om Puri had become one of India's most prolific and respected actors, after a starring role in Satyajit Ray's Sadgati (India, 1981), and parts in films by Shyam Benegal, Ketan Mehta and Mani Kaul. Because these were movies that were widely distributed abroad, Puri earned increasing recognition among Western directors and audiences.

He played key supporting roles in Gandhi (d. Richard Attenborough, 1982), The Jewel in the Crown (ITV, 1984) and City of Joy (UK/France, d. Roland Joffé, 1992). Critics and audiences marvelled at his capacity to play characters of great range and depth, as he further established himself as an actor of immense versatility. As Puri has said, "People say to me that they are amazed at the mixture I have in my career. I do Indian art films, I do films abroad, I also do commercial films."

Of the 140 films - both Bollywood and international - Puri has to his credit, among his greatest international successes have been his portrayals Pakistani patriarchs. In My Son the Fanatic (d. Udayan Prasad, 1997) he plays Parvez, a liberal-minded Pakistani cab driver living in Northern England, who tries to come to terms with his son's newfound allegiance to Muslim fundamentalism. Puri gained critical acclaim for one of the most powerful performances of the year. In East is East (d. Damien O'Donnell, 1999), his comic and terrifying portrayal of a complicated, traditionalist father, husband and fish and chip shop owner won him a nomination for Best Actor at the 2000 BAFTA Awards.

Shalini Chanda

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Brothers In Trouble (1995)Brothers In Trouble (1995)

Drama about a group of illegal immigrants in northern England

Thumbnail image of East is East (1999)East is East (1999)

Comedy about a Pakistani chip shop owner living in Salford

Thumbnail image of Gandhi (1982)Gandhi (1982)

Large-scale Oscar-winning biopic of the great Indian spiritual leader

Thumbnail image of My Son The Fanatic (1997)My Son The Fanatic (1997)

The son of a Westernised Pakistani cab driver is drawn towards radical Islam

Thumbnail image of Jewel in the Crown, The (1984)Jewel in the Crown, The (1984)

Acclaimed drama series set in the 1940s Indian Raj

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