Om Puri, Bollywood star, dies in Mumbai

Indian cinema icon who acted for more than 40 years dies at 66 after suffering a heart attack in Mumbai.

FILE PHOTO - Actor Om Puri arrives for the British gala screening of "The Hundred-Foot Journey" at the Curzon Mayfair in London
Tributes pour in from the world of Bollywood as actors and directors awoke to the news of Om Puri's death [Paul Hackett/Reuters]

Acclaimed Indian actor Om Puri, well known for his roles in hit movies Gandhi and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, has died at 66 after suffering a heart attack.

Puri died at his residence in Mumbai, the home of Bollywood, the Press Trust of India reported on Friday .

He returned home on Thursday evening after a film shoot but his door bell went unanswered on Friday morning, following which his driver raised an alarm, it said.   

Puri made a name for himself in the 1980s with alternative art cinema that found a niche audience in India, playing several memorable characters that depicted the anger and angst of those times.

He also appeared in a number of British films, most notably Richard Attenborough’s 1982 epic on the life of India’s independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi. He also had a role in the Hollywood film Charlie Wilson’s War.

Puri starred opposite British actress Helen Mirren in the 2014 film The Hundred Foot Journey.

He was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India, for his service to the film industry.

Tributes poured in from the world of Bollywood as actors and directors awoke to the news of his death.

Bollywood stars tweeted their shock at the news with Amitabh Bachchan saying he was “shocked” to learn of Puri’s death.

“A dear friend, a lovable colleague and an exceptional talent … in grief!” he said.

Puri was known in India for his role in edgy art-house movies such as Aakrosh (1980) and Ardh Satya (1982), for which he won the National Indian Film Award for Best Actor.

But he also acted in major Hollywood hits, featuring alongside the likes of Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks and Patrick Swayze.

“Though I did try to resist commercial films for quite some time, I succumbed to it finally as money was equally important as art,” Puri wrote in his autobiography.

“But as an artist I never compromised on what I had to do on-screen, even if the film was not up to the standard.”

Puri was awarded the Padma Shri for his services to the film industry and in 2004 received an honorary OBE for contributions to British cinema.

He was born in Haryana state to a Punjabi family in 1950.  He made his film debut in 1976 with the Marathi film Ghashiram Kotwal.

Source: News Agencies