Veteran actor Om Puri, who has done several films in the West and will soon be seen in The Hundred Foot Journey alongside Oscar-winning actor Helen Mirren, says the Indian film industry has never fully utilised his potential.
"It’s not that I’m not respected in the Indian film industry ... it’s just that I have not been utilised properly. I’m a character actor, I can play a ­protagonist. It’s a regular feature in the West — the stories ­revolve around ­character actors there. But in India, films are mainly about youngsters and love,” says Puri. “There’s ­nothing wrong in that, but there’s too much of it. And under-utilisation is not just restricted to me, it also includes other character actors such as Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher," he adds.
Puri, 63, has done many films in the West, including East is East, West is West and City of Joy, and says the Hollywood ­filmmakers are keen on finding ­character actors in India.
"The casting ­directors in the West think Indian films are only about song and dance. So, instead of casting the commercially popular actors in India, they look for good actors. And, in my case, after I did City of Joy (1992), my first film in English, things became easy. They (makers) gave me an agent as well after that," he says.