Friendship Day: When Om Puri saved Naseeruddin Shah's life after a stabbing, lunged at attacker 'with strangled cry'
Naseeruddin Shah and the late Om Puri were thick as thieves, but did you know that Om Puri once saved Naseer's life after a knife attack? On Friendship Day 2021, here's a throwback to the incident, about which the Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron actor wrote in his autobiography, And Then One Day: A Memoir.
The incident took place at a restaurant in 1977, and the attacker was one of Naseer's former friends, Jaspal. He wrote that Om Puri, who died in 2017, leaped across the table and subdued the attacker. He then took him to the hospital, thereby saving his life.
“While the shooting for Bhumika (1977) was on, Om and I were in the middle of dinner when Jaspal, whom I had kept well away from for some time now, also entered and greeted Om. We ignored each other but, eyes fixed on me, he passed to sit on another table behind me, so I thought," Naseeruddin Shah wrote. "After a while, I was reminded of his presence by what felt like a short sharp punch in the middle of my back. I started to rise, wearily preparing myself for another free-for-all. Before I could move, Om with a strangled cry lunged at something behind me. I turned to see Jaspal holding a small knife, its point dripping blood, his hand raised to strike again, and Om and two others grappling to subdue him."
He wrote that Om argued with the restaurant manager, who wanted to wait for the cops to arrive before calling an ambulance. “Om made the cardinal error of climbing in as well without permission and managed to rile the boss-man, thereby asking the cops to be gentle with me. He was ordered to get off and after considerable pleading with the goon in charge was allowed to stay. Neither of us had an idea where we were headed but I prayed it was not the police station," he continued, writing that 'a sizeable crowd' had gathered to witness the altercation, and that Jaspal had been given 'the treatment' in the kitchen.
“The bleeding had not seized, the pain was getting intense and these cops obviously had not quite understood the situation. After a few cursory questions to us, and some garbled transmissions over the radio in Marathi, we arrived at Cooper Hospital in Juhu,” he concluded.
Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah were students at the Film and Television Institute of India, and have worked together on several films, including Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Ardh Satya, and Maqbool.