UK varsity screens Ardh Satya, pays tribute to Om Puri
Om Puri’s 1983 classic Ardh Satya was screened at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, as the varsity paid tributes to the iconic actor who passed away in January after a body of work that academics say made him the “most versatile transnational actor”.
Academics, students and fans of global cinema came together at the event organised by the Institute of Global Cinema and Creative Cultures in the university. One of the last interviews Puri gave to the university’s researcher Shorna Pal was also screened at the event.
Dina Iordanova, professor of Global Cinema and Creative Cultures at the university, told Hindustan Times: “There is no one else of the transnational versatility of Om Puri. Others may be better known but Om Puri is the true transnational face of Indian cinema.
“Shashi Kapoor has had his roles in Western cinema, and today the face of Irrfan Khan may be most familiar. Huge Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan have only had cameos and are largely unknown to Western audiences.”
Academics and researchers working on Indian cinema debated various aspects of Puri’s work that included films made in Britain, such as East is East (1999) and West is West (2010). One of his last films was Gurinder Chadha’s Viceroy’s House, which was released in March, after his death.
According to researcher Aakshi Magazine, “No one can say exactly what contributes to an actor’s ability to create empathetic characters, but the sensitivity that Puri brought to his roles, are perhaps products of both the triumphs as well as the disappointments that are were a part of his career and his life.
“It is this that probably reflects the sensitivity he could bring in playing not easily likeable characters like the one in East is East, or the Hindu right-wing officer responsible for riots in Dev. Puri portrayed them as contradictions without asking us to take sides.”
Iordanova, whose research interests include Indian cinema, said: “I have not had the chance to see many Indian films where Om Puri is said to have delivered amazing performances. However, I have seen him in enough international films – over 40, of his lengthy filmography of 300+ roles — to know that his transnational versatility is unmatched.”
Founded in early 15th century, the University of St Andrews is the third oldest university after Oxford and Cambridge. Its alumni include Prince William, Kate Middleton and senior leader of the Scottish National Party Alex Salmond.