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Friday 24 January 2020

Amrish Puri: Google Doodle recalls the range of the actor

When directors like Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani picked him to play the grey characters in their films, it showcased the range that Puri

New Delhi: Today, Google is celebrating the 87th birth anniversary of late actor Amrish Puri. Today’s Google Doodle is dedicated to the character role Puri portrayed in some of the films he was cast in.

Interestingly, the Google Doodle does not reminisce the typical, larger-than-life villain living in a ‘den’, sporting loud and outlandish make-up, roles like which Puri essayed in Mr India (as Mogambo) or in Tehelka [where he went “Dong kabhi wrong nahin hota” (Dong is never wrong)].

The actor Amrish Puri was born on 22 June 1932 in Nawanshahr, Punjab. The Puris were four siblings. Amrish’s elder brothers Madan Puri and Chaman Puri were both actors.

The range of Amrish Puri

This Bollywood actor did not play the villain alone. When he moved to character roles, he impressed the audience as much. In Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Amrish Puri saying, “Jaa Simran jaa” became as iconic as Mogambo in Mr India repeating ad nauseam, “Mogambo khush hua!”

Though Amrish Puri was a cousin of actor-singer KL Sehgal, he had failed in his first screen test. He started working in the Employees State Insurance Corporation under the Ministry of Labour and Employment thereafter.

Puri started acting at the Prithvi Theatre while he was still a government employee. He received accolades as a theatre artiste, winning the Music-Drama Academy Award in 1979.

The success in plays gave him an opportunity to act on television after which he made a foray into cinema. He started his career in films at the age of 40. In his initial Bollywood films, he would play the second fiddle to top villains. One may recall how his character was humiliated in the 1980 film Dostana (featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha) where Prem Chopra played his boss.

Puri got recognition from the 1980’s super hit film Hum Paanch in which he played the villain’s role. In 1982, he played the lead negative role again in Subhash Ghai’s Vidhata and this film became a hit, too, as did his portrayal.

When directors like Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani picked him to play the grey characters in their films, it showcased the range that Puri was capable of featuring in, which included realistic portrayals in a genre that was known as parallel or art cinema of the 1980s. Manthan, Aakrosh, Ardh Satya, Nishant are some of the films from the school of cinema inspired by French-style treatment of stories.

This veteran actor was liked also in Hollywood. He had worked in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi, which was released in 1982.

Puri played the character of Maula Ram in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This Hollywood movie was released in 1984. He got his head tonsured to play the role.

Puri died of cancer on 12 January 2005. He had worked in almost 400 films by then.

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