Being part of commercial, independent & art films, Om Puri has done some outstanding work in Indian Cinema and awarded with high honours. Nevertheless the veteran actor, who’s done quite a few foreign films and now all set to be seen in American comedy-drama THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY, feels that he has done substandard work in Bollywood as compared to overseas.
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Om Puri gets candid and counts on his achievements in overseas, “I have done about two dozen foreign films. Here (in Bollywood) I may have done substandard work, but whatever I got in abroad it’s good. I was never offered substandard work there. I’ve worked with biggest American stars. I’ve done lot of British films and those too principal roles. I was awarded with OBE by the Queen of England for my contribution in their films. I was nominated for BAFTA and I got Best European actor award for the film MY SON THE FANATIC, a British film which was selected at the Brussels International film fest, which is only for European films.”
Does he feel Bollywood is a biased place? “No it’s not the question of biasedness. I have done good work in Indian films also. But what we call here is art films. Still I am thankful to filmmakers like Govind Nihlani and Shyam Benegal, who have been really my mentors. They are the ones who gave me meaty stuff. I am grateful to art cinema because of them. While I am also grateful to commercial cinema because my standard of living came from it. But commercial cinema has not capitalized me very well, despite the fact that I am a brilliant actor.”
Ask Om if he regrets about it and he says, “I don’t regret. This is my luck. It’s not underutilization of my talent because the kind of films we make I don’t fit into it. For e.g. I am a senior citizen now. So there won’t be main parts for me because we don’t make films like in the west. You could be 75 or 85 and still be playing the lead role in films there. It’s a different kind of filmmaking in abroad. We only make films about young people and now particularly only for urban audience…These days we don’t even talk about villages and rural areas.”
But isn’t it a sign of growth for the Indian cinema? “Well, we don’t treat films here as social responsibility. We treat Indian cinema as source of entertainment only,” says the veteran actor forthrightly
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Besides having a significant role, Om more than willingly took up THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY as it had names like Helen Mirren (actor), Steven Spielberg & Oprah Winfrey (producer), DreamWorks (banner), and Walt Disney (distributor) attached to it.
“Yes, these are the reasons plus the director is very well known and versatile. He is Swedish by birth and has made some great films. Moreover, I got the opportunity to team up with Helen Mirren, who’s the Oscar Award winning actress. She is no. 1 in the caste of THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY,” Om states
While Om has central part, Juhi Chawla, who also stars in the film, has a miniscule role. For the first time she is paired opposite Om.
Om reveals, “Juhi has a very tiny part unfortunately. Well we’ve been together in one or two films earlier but never had scenes together. And now here also we don’t have any scenes together. Though she plays my wife in the film, we are not sharing the screen space.”
Also starring Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon, THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY is about the conflict of two diverse cultures and how eventually they understand each other. The film is simultaneously releasing in 16 countries and all over India on August 8, 2014.