With more than four decades of a stellar career behind him, several Hindi, British and American films, two National awards and a Padma Shri, actor Om Puri still finds himself a victim of the Hindi film industry’s double-standards.
"There is a lot of ­disparity in every way," he rues, and illustrates by ­saying, "For instance, I was once invited by a magazine to an award ­function and they wanted to give me a lifetime achievement award. When I reached the venue, there wasn’t even a chair for me there! So, there were chairs with names written on them — Shah Rukh Khan, actresses’ names and so on. And for someone you want to give a lifetime achievement award to, there is not even a chair! I mean, why do you want to do it? If you don’t mean it, don’t give me the award. I didn’t ask you to give it to me. But if you want to do something, be sincere or don’t do it."
The recipient of Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire adds that even the pay cheques reflect the bias. "In terms of moolah too, there is ­disparity. And then, there aren’t enough roles for actors like me, Paresh Rawal...," says the 64-year-old, who will be next be seen in Jai Ho Democracy.
He adds, "The talent is also slotted in terms of stars and actors. We aren’t considered stars. Our ­photos won’t appear on magazine covers. Maybe before I die, I will pay them to be on the cover."