Veteran actor Om Puri passed away in Mumbai on Thursday evening. He was 66. Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit, who was a close friend of the actor, first confirmed the sad news of his demise on Twitter. Puri returned home last evening after a shoot. Reportedly his door bell went unanswered on Friday morning, following which his driver raised an alarm. The Padma Shri-winning actor died of a heart attack.
The Padma Shri awardee, studied at the Film and Television Institute of India and at the National School of Drama, where Naseeruddin Shah was his classmate. Born on October 18, 1950, hailing from Ambala in Haryana, Om Puri made his film debut in 1976 with the Marathi film ‘Ghashiram Kotwal’.
Om Puri, along with Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil, were among the critically-acclaimed actors who thrived in what was then referred to as art cinema, defining films like Bhavai (1980), Sadgati (1981), Ardh Satya (1982), Mirch Masala (1986) and Dharavi (1992).
He also played a cameo in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi. In the 1990s, he ventured into popular Hindi cinema.
Over the years, Om Puri also made a name for himself in American and British productions. He appeared in Hollywood films like City of Joy (1992), opposite Patrick Swayze; Wolf (1994) with Jack Nicholson; and The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) opposite Val Kilmer. He played General Zia-ul-Haq in Charlie Wilson’s War, which stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences. Among those who expressed grief are Anupam Kher – his co-star of many films – Karan Johar, Madhur Bhandarkar and Sujit Sarkar.
Sad to hear about the passing away of the very talented Om Puri, my co-actor in many films…heartfelt condolences to the family. #RIP
— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) January 6, 2017
So long Omji. Prided myself on being his friend peer & admirer. Who dare say my Om Puri is no more ? He lives through his work.
— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) January 6, 2017
Omji… I will miss that warm tight hug that you gave me every morning on set. Khudahafiz sir… you were the best!
— Kabir Khan (@kabirkhankk) January 6, 2017
It's a sad day for cinema … we just lost one of our greats… gone but will never be forgotten … #RIPOmPuri Saab …
— Neha Dhupia (@NehaDhupia) January 6, 2017