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Om Puri, in five unforgettable scenes

The fiery, versatile actor brought to life some of the most memorable characters in Hindi films

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NEW DELHI : Ardh Satya (1983): The poem


A proud cop hoping to change the world soon realizes that he is a mere pawn in the larger game of corruption, power, politics and crime. He struggles with the evils around him and his own vulnerabilities. The honest cop’s life goes into a downward spiral and he has to seek assistance from a corrupt politician.mobAds

Puri plays the honest cop Anant Welankar in the movie and puts the character’s struggles into perspective in one pivotal scene in the film where he reads a poem from a book named Ardh Satya.

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Tamas (1987): The Pig

Govind Nihlani’s Tamas is largely based on the eponymous novel by Bhishm Sahni that deals with partition and its after-effects. In the book the killing of the pig has significance as its carcass becomes the cause of a riot. And the man commissioning the act is seen driving a ‘peace bus’ later. Nathu chamar, played by Puri, kills the pig for Rs5.

Hera Pheri (2000): Khadak Singh wants his money back

Khadak Singh keeps recurring throughout the Priyadarshan movie to claim the money he had lent a friend and is fooled every time. Towards the end, he comes with a truckload of people to recover the money and is fooled again. This time he follows his friend to what becomes a hilarious melee involving almost every actor in the movie.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983): Mahabharat

Puri plays perpetually drunk builder Ahuja in Kundan Shah’s political satire Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983). Draupadi is about to be disrobed in a stage production of the Mahabharat when the stage is crashed by several actors in what turns into one of the funniest scenes ever in the history of Bollywood.

Aakrosh (1980): The funeral

What stays with you long after you have watched this film is Bhiku Lahanya’s chilling scream (at about the two hour 14 minute mark) that follows the equally unnerving silence of the character through the movie. Bhiku, who is accused of killing his wife and is in prison, screams after killing his sister with one stroke of the axe at their father’s funeral, moments after lighting the pyre, in an attempt to save her from the unconcealed lust of the village foreman and a destiny that drove his wife to suicide.

Puri plays Bhiku with conviction. The scream was the revolt against the grave injustice and human rights violation against a victim from the lowest strata of the society.

Director Govind Nihlani, in a 2013 interview, has admitted that Puri had lived Bhiku’s story by the time of this scene. seventhMAds

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