Bio-Graphy

'Mogambo Khush Hua' is one of the most famous dialogues to be uttered on the Indian filmscape.It would have been considered totally inane and insipid had anyone else than Amrish Puri uttered this line. It is to the credit of this immensely talented actor that he was able to pull off one of the biggest caricatured character written for the screen with great conviction and quiet aplomb as Mogambo in Shekhar Kapur's "Mr. India". And that he has been doing so with alarming regularity over the years in countless films.


Amrish Puri was born in 1932 and is the younger brother of the perennial character actor, Late Madan Puri. His brother's exploits inspired Amrish to put in his two bit towards film glory, and prompted him to screen test for the leading role in a 1954 production. The callow 22-year-old was heartbroken when the producer of the film for which he had screen tested for rejected him by indicating that he had a 'crude and harsh face'. After the initial disappointment had abated, Amrish Puri turned with a vengeance towards theatre where performance was considered far more important than appearance. He achieved a cult status over the years still waiting for the proverbial opportunity to prove his mettle on the silver screen. Amrish Puri had also realised that the character of the role to be essayed was far more important than just playing the cliched leading part. However, the emotional satisfaction of this realisation could, and would, not put the bread on the table for his family, to add a little pocket money to his income, he also lent his voice to a number of radio jingles. This also enabled him to learn the way to enact via just the modulation in his voice, and played an important role in his emergence as a great actor later.

When he was almost 40, Amrish Puri finally got the long awaited opportunity in the film, "Reshma Aur Shera", when the original director, Sukhdev, cast him as an important character. However, after Sukhdev quit the film over certain creative differences with the star/producer Sunil Dutt, Amrish's role was blown away along with the sand dunes of the Thar Desert where the film was shot. His third coming was to prove to be the final one. He was discovered, along with a host of other great stage actors, by the new wave of artistic filmmakers like Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani. In films after films, like "Nishant", "Manthan", "Bhumika" and "Ardhsatya",Amrish honed his film acting

skills waiting for acceptance also from the commercial stream of filmmaking where he desperately wanted to prove his mettle. Two films made an important contribution in the acceptance of Amrish Puri as the next great villain (the industry still nursed notions that strong faces could only be villainous!). Bapu's "Hum Panch" and Subhash Ghai's "Vidhaata" established him in the upper echelons of star villains, and eventually paved the way for roles being written with he being kept in mind to eventually essay them. Another milestone in Amrish Puri's career has been the role of the main villain in Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom".His trademark baritone voice along with his appearance made him the 'Pran' of the modern Hindi film era. Harmesh Malhotra's "Nagina", Subhash Ghai's "Ram Lakhan", and countless other films were stamped with his imposing negative character's machinations.


The collective thinking process of the film industry to stereotype an actor in a similar role mould prompted Amrish Puri to turn to more versatile character roles rather the bread and butter negative ones. In films like Kuku Kohli's "Phool Aur Kaante", Aditya Chopra's "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayange" and Subhash Ghai's "Pardes", Amrish Puri was able to get out of the rut and reinvent the wheel vis--vis the stereotypical image that he was saddled with. He also continued his commitment to smaller budget artistic films over the years to reaffirm and hone his acting skills.His other successful roles came with movie like Zubeidaa, Gadar, Hulchal and Kisna. For a man who has worked in more than two hundred movies, his death came a big blow to the industry.

 

Back