June 27, 2011 04:14:38 PM IST Joginder Tuteja, Glamsham Editorial
Except for a stray WEST IS WEST where he was recently seen in a central role, 60-year-old Om Puri is primarily doing cameos and supporting roles with strong character roles thrown in for good measure as well.
One such recent example was BIN BULAYE BARAATI which did no justice to his caliber as an actor.
Comparing the trend with cinema coming from the West, Puri says, "Out there, a 60-year-old guy can play a central character. At the age of over 75, Michael Caine played the title role in HARRY BROWN. Clint Eastwood is still a hero at the age of 80 and doing the central role in GRAN TORINO. Here we are happy doing mediocre films. Yes, occasionally you do get a MALAMAAL WEEKLY or a CHINA GATE but such films are far and few."
Laughing at the irony of the situation, Puri says in a light hearted tone, "Sometimes filmmakers say that they have a challenging role for us and then they read us the script of a love story and tell us to play the part of a father of a boy or a girl. How many times can you continue doing the same thing? The very concept of using older actors in sensible roles hasn't come to realize here in the Hindi film industry." He also adds that since majority of filmmakers work with stars, actors like him are required to take a backseat.
"There was a time when directors like Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani used to make films with newcomers and introduced new talent," recollects Puri who along with Naseeruddin Shah was the hot favorite with these filmmakers over three decades ago when new wave cinema had first made its presence felt, "They also gave break to quite a few new technicians. Today this is not the case."
"This is the reason why actors like me, Naseer, Paresh (Rawal), Anupam (Kher) or Boman (Irani) feel lucky when a meaty role comes our way," he smiles before signing off.