Naseeruddin Shah, who shared a ‘parallel career in parallel cinema’ with the late Om Puri, shared his memories of the actor in an interview with DNA.
He spoke at length about various aspects of his friendship, their careers, and even Om Puri’s troubled final years.
“I never felt any envy or resentment towards his achievements. He got a lot of roles like East Is East, which I thought would come to me. But I felt nothing but joy for him,” said Shah.
“But his personal problems — in which I did not intervene at all — had left his mental and physical health in a shambles. I know for a fact that Om was really suffering during the last few years. And there was no way out of it. Though his death was sudden, I can’t say it was totally unexpected. In a way, death has relieved him of all the stress, and that includes the bad films he took on, I presume for financial reasons. Om took all the criticism on his chin,” he continued.
Shah worked with Puri in films like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and Mirch Masala. “Om would often do cameos for my films, like that one scene in Sai Paranjpye’s Sparsh. I’d ask him if he didn’t feel embarrassed to be cast in such small roles. He would give gaalis and say, ‘Arrey yaar. I’m not doing it for you. I am doing it because I believe in the film,’” he said.
Om Puri died at the age of 66 on January 6.
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