Om Puri, one of the most versatile and celebrated actors in India, has died at 66. The Padma Shri-winning actor died of a heart attack at his home in Mumbai.
The veteran actor starred in several award-winning Indian movies and also featured in crossover ventures.
Om Puri rose to fame with films like Ardh Satya, Aakrosh and Paar. His popularity later extended to mainstream cinema, with iconic roles in films like Jaane Bhi DoYaaron and Maachis.
Born in Ambala, Haryana, to a Railway officer, Om Puri studied at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. He was also an alumnus of the 1973 class of the National School of Drama, where Naseeruddin Shah was a fellow student.
He made his film debut in the 1976 Marathi film Ghashiram Kotwal, based on a Marathi play of the same name by Vijay Tendulkar.
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.