MUMBAI — Om Puri is one of the most recognized faces in international cinema. Back home, he has worked with eminent directors like Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Mrinal Sen, Priyadarshan and many more. But he is the only Indian actor to have worked with mainstream Hollywood directors like Roland Joffe, Mike Nichols, Lasse Halstrom and others, and he has worked alongside co-actors like Patrick Swayze, Jack Nicholson, Michael Douglas, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Val Kilmer and Helen Mirren.
“East is East” is the cult British film which got him a BAFTA nomination and the OBE from Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to British cinema and television. Awarded in India and the world over, with the Padma Shri, the Soviet Land Nehru, the Karlovy Vary and several National awards, Om Puri remains an acting icon.
The Om Puri Foundation, which was started in 2017 by his wife Nandita Puri and son Ishaan Puri, has decided to celebrate late actor’s 70th birthday by launching a YouTube channel “Puri Baatein,” which will talk about him, his films and beyond. Ishaan will launch his 4-minute film on Om Puri on the channel Oct. 18.
Said Nandita, “We will celebrate him globally with year-long programs celebrating one of the greatest actors of our times. The Om Puri Foundation, apart from having his retrospective in India, Cannes and London, will also be having a festival in Punjab and several contests with various organizations. The highlight is LITMUS, a festival of literature, theatre and music in his memory. We also look forward to releasing a few films in his memory like Ram Kamal Mukherjee’s “Rickshawala” as well as a couple of his unreleased Hollywood films. Hoping you will all join and be a part of keeping Om Puri’s memory and legacy alive!”
One more interesting news is that, this year, the Boston Asian Film Fest is kick-starting the celebration by honoring the late actor with Outstanding Contribution to Cinema.
Incidentally “Rickshawala,” a bilingual in Hindi and Bengali is a tribute to Ronald Joff’s “City of Joy” and Bimal Roy’s “Do Bigha Zamin.” After watching it at a private screening, Nandita said, “I can vouch that Ram Kamal could not have decided on a better actor than Avinash. You could see his preparation for the role. He was perfect without overplaying it. He was in character especially since I am familiar with the role of Om as Hasari Pal in “City of Joy.” Watching Avinash was deja vu for me.”
Om Puri Foundation has decided to be the social cause partner for Ram Kamal Mukherjee’s “Rickshawala.” “Hand-pulled rickshaws are almost extinct today, except for a handful in Kolkata. But my childhood was spent riding on them. It is wonderful that Ram Kamal has captured this for posterity in a very mature manner, also showing the lives of the pullers. “Rickshawala” was selected at Madrid and Melbourne International Film Festivals 2020.