Om Puri wanted to launch his son Ishaan Puri in Lucknow with the play Bicchoo, an adaption of French playwright Moliere’s famous play Scapian the Schemer. Directed by his brother-in-law Ranjit Kapoor he had played lead in the play in late 70s.
“Puri wanted his son to do the role he had done once. The play was first directed by Ranjit in Lucknow and our organisation produced the play. Actor Swadesh Bandhu did the main role which was later done by Puri in Mumbai,” tells veteran theatre artiste Surya Mohan Kulshreshtha who also played one of the three main characters in the play.
Puri had expressed his desire to Kulshreshtha during the shoot of his wife Seema Kapoor’s film Mr Kabadi in Lucknow. “I had met him first in Mumbai in 1988 during my play Ram Leela at Prithvi Theatre. My last meeting was on the sets of Mr Kabadi in which we also share screen space. We also recorded a qawalli together.
He used to make the atmosphere very light for junior artistes by taking the mike and cracking jokes or singing on the set. He left everyone in splits by making a funny parody of popular song Chitti Aai Hai,” recalls Kulshreshtha.
Ghazal samrat Anup Jalota, also a producer of Mr Kabadi, says, “It’s a big loss to the film world. Great man, great actor and a real friend I lost.”
During the shoot of Varanasi 2006, a film on the bomb blast at Sankat Mochan Temple, Puri got emotional talking about his uncalled-for comment on army-person which snowballed into a big controversy. He said to HT City, “I come from an Army family and I now wonder how can I utter such words for a martyr. All my apologies can’t wash off my sin.” Puri later visited the martyr’s family in Etawah to seek apology from them and took part in the prayer meet. Line producer Aroon Singh Dicky talks about his closeness with the actor. “I have been a part of film Baabar with him. When his wife Seemaji was scheduled to direct a film in Lucknow I was busy with Jolly LLB. He called me up and in his baritone voice said: ‘Aroonji, meri wife film direct kar rahi hai apko karni hai bas.’ Who can refuse such a legend! My last meeting was with him on the sets of Mr Kabadi at Shani Temple. Yesterday only, I spoke to Seemaji and in the morning I got this shocking news,” says Dicky.
Lucknow-lad and designer Manish Tripathi has worked with him in KC Bokadia’s film Dirty Politics. “I was amazed to see how quickly he used to adapt himself in any character. He was very happy with the dresses I made for him and gave me a lovely note for the same.”
In the last few years Puri has shot back-to-back films in Lucknow. Besides Mr Kabadi, he has shot Baabar, Gandhigiri and Ram Bhajan Zindabad in last few years in Uttar Pradesh.
He also shot Miss Tanakpur Hazir Ho in Western UP and Varanasi 2006 recently. He had also taken part during a session on Richard Attenborough’s film Gandhi in the Lucknow Literature Festival.