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Om Puri's new Hollywood venture

Diganta Guha speaks to the actor about his new Hollywood film with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2006 18:58 IST
Diganta Guha
Diganta Guha

Even as actors like Sushmita Sen, Aishwarya Rai and Irrfan make headlines about their Hollywood projects, Om Puri, a veteran in the cross-border genre, has been lying low.

Now, after a gap of three years the actor — who has done several international projects including Wolf, City of Joy, East is East, The Zoo Keeper, Gandhi, The Ghost and The Darkness among others — is ready to start his next Hollywood film, Charlie Wilson’s War.

The film, which also stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, is to be directed by Mike Nichols, who earlier directed Puri in Wolf (1994). In Charlie Wilson’s War, Puri plays the role of former Pakistani President General Zia-ul-Huq. Puri says the dictator doesn’t appear as a villain in the film.

Om Puri has signed a Hollywood film which also stars Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks. 

“He appears as a tough and cunning politician who has done his homework well. The film is not about him but on his relationships with the Americans. He wants that the money and arms for Afghanistan should flow through Pakistan,” says Puri, over phone from Mumbai. The US understands his agenda “but the Americans want to get their work done, so they are very polite with him,” adds the actor, who was awarded the Order of The British Empire (OBE) in 2004.

The movie is based on George Crile’s book,

Charlie Wilson’s


, which revolves around the story of a Congressman from Texas and a CIA official who spurred the Congress and the CIA to help the Afghan rebels in their fight against the Afghan government, which was then in power with the support of the Soviet Union.

Hanks, who is also producing the film along with Gary Goetzman, plays Charlie Wilson, the Texas Congressman in charge of the US funding of the Afghan rebels and Roberts (this is her comeback film after the birth of her twins) is slated to play Joanne Herring, a socialite who helps Wilson raise support for the cause.

Puri has already been to Los Angeles for trials of make-up and costume and he will be leaving for Morocco on October 9 for his first schedule. “They will be shooting the Afghanistan and Pakistan portions in Morocco. And later, in December, I will be in Houston for a week,” adds Puri.

About Tom Hanks and Roberts, Puri says, “Most of my scenes in the film are with them.” On why he has not done any international project in three years, Puri informs, “I had a surgery and there were also date problems. The bulk of my work has been in Britain but for quite sometime the British film industry has been lying low. Of course, due to my illness I also said no to several offers that came my way.”

Back home, Puri has Farhan Akhtar’s

Don-The Chase Begins Again

and Mani Shankar’s


among others. He is also doing a film with Priyadarshan and the

Victoria No. 203

remake directed by Ananth Mahadevan.

First Published: Sep 29, 2006 17:48 IST