OM PURI Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Om Puri born on 10/18/1950 in India, described as “the finest actor of the post-independence generation” by one expert on the Indian cinema, Om Puri is one of India’s most respected and prolific screen personalities,  having appeared in over 140 films over the course of his career. Thanks  to starring work in such films as My Son the Fanatic and East Is East,  Puri has also earned increasing recognition among a Western audience,  further establishing himself as an actor of great range and  versatility.


Born in a rural area of northern India in 1950, Puri grew up  planning to be a military man like his father. His ambitions shifted  when, as a student at a Punjabi university, he joined a theatre group.  With the support of his parents, Puri studied acting for three years at  the National School of Drama in New Delhi, where he performed in a wide  variety of works ranging from Indian folk plays to Kabuki drama to  Shakespeare, the last of which gave him the opportunity to play Hamlet  in Hindi. The actor followed his studies with a stint at the Indian  Film Institute in Poona and then decided to try his luck in Bombay,  India’s film capital. Although he lacked the classically handsome  features of most Indian film stars, Puri was able to find work based on  the strength of his previous theatre experience. Once he began  appearing on the screen, he found himself in great demand thanks in  large part to his seemingly limitless versatility, and he became  established over the years as one of his country’s best-known actors.


After a starring role in Satyajit Ray’s Sadgati (1981), which cast him as a member of India’s caste of untouchables,  Puri began attracting the notice of Western filmmakers. He appeared in Gandhi (1982), Wolf (1994), and City of Joy (1992), the last of which cast him as Patrick Swayze’s unlikely savior. He had his greatest international success to date as the star of My Son the Fanatic (1997), a British satirical comedy written by Hanif Kureshi.  As Parvez, a liberal-minded Pakistani taxi driver living in northern  England who cannot understand his son’s sudden alliance with a group of  Islamic fundamentalists, Puri turned in a vivid, wryly-nuanced  performance that many critics deemed as one of the year’s best. The  following year, he earned another lavish dose of acclaim for his  portrayal of George Khan, another Pakistani patriarch living in England  in East Is East.  Where Puri’s previous character had been laid-back and open-minded,  Khan was rigid and conservative (despite his untraditional marriage to  an English woman), and critics and audiences alike marveled at the  actor’s capacity for carving such distinctive characterizations from a  superficially similar mold.