Veteran Indian actor Om Puri, who has been part of many successful films, has recently fulfilled his dream of working with acclaimed film-maker —
While Puri has worked in international productions like City Of Joy (1992), The Ghost And The Darkness (1996), East Is East (1999) and West Is West (2010), among others, he says it was a different experience this time around.
How was the experience of working with Spielberg?
It was wonderful. I am extremely happy and lucky that I got to work with director Lasse Hallström (Swedish film director) and the Academy Award-winning actor Helen Mirren. What made the film all the more special for me was that it was a Spielberg production. I was waiting to work with him. He is not only a genius film-maker, but also a gentle human being.
Despite being talented, Indian actors usually don’t get bigger roles in Hollywood films.
Yes, unlike in British films, because there is a huge concentration of Indians in Britain, American films will never have a big part for Indians. If an American film-maker chooses a subject with an Indian as the protagonist, only then can Indians get major/lead roles. But, there is a lot of interest and curiosity about India, worldwide.
So, how different has your experience been?
I have been working in western films since the ’90s. While I have been part of many British projects, I have done about five American films too. But they have all been with major stars like Tom Hanks and Michael Douglas, among others. I have had extensive roles in those movies.
Are you concentrating more on Hollywood films?
Not really, they just happened whenever I got offers. I have never stayed longer than I am required there to market myself, or to meet the producers to find more work. I finish my work and come back till I am called again. In City Of Joy, I had a long part. Also, my role in The Ghost And The Darkness was reasonably long.
According to you, how has Bollywood changed over the years?
It’s unfortunate that Hindi cinema is looked at as an instrument of entertainment and magic. They show magic in terms of action and stunts, which is entertaining, and people enjoy it, but there’s nothing for the brain. In the ’50s and ’60s, we had different kinds of genres. But today, people opt for trends that can help them earn more money.