‘I’m making an inspirational biopic on Ompuri,’ says estranged wife


A biopic on late actor Om Puri is in the works says his estranged wife Nandita Puri.

Nandita, who penned the critically acclaimed actor’s biography titled Unlikely Hero: The Story of Om Puri, told IANS, “I am adapting the book. I am making a biopic on Omji. I am taking part of the book and I am putting it as he wanted, as an inspirational story.”

She said she is yet to cast an actor who can essay Om as it is difficult to do so.

“We are just at the developing stage of the screenplay. The script is the most important thing for a film,” said Nandita, a journalist herself.

Om Puri’s biography was released in 2009, and the actor was upset with his wife for highlighting some of his most private sexual incidents. Things started becoming sour between them from thereon.

The biopic, Nandita says, will have “a few parts from the book and will mostly be throwing light on his struggle, the way Omji wanted”.

“As a journalist, I had gone to interview him. He said, Why don’t you put my life story. He came from a very humble background. He worked at a tea stall at the age of six to put food for the family on the table.

“His journey involved facing very difficult circumstances. From literally starving at FTII (Film and Television Institute of India). If it hadn’t been for Girish Karnad who gave him a film and he got Rs 3000 and managed to get through two years of FTII on that. It was very difficult.

“Even veteran film-maker Shyam Benegal had told me that when Omji was working in Mumbai, he was so poor and thin, he was down with jaundice and they used to think that he did not know whether the next meal was coming or not. From that, there are a hundred inspiring incidents from his childhood – how he overcame this, how he lived through it, how he surpassed it,” she added.

Om, whose repertoire as an actor reflected a rare realism, died in January after a heart attack. His death had triggered a nationwide outpouring of condolences from top leaders, fans, and the film fraternity. He was 66.

Known for his deep baritone and distinctive acting style, Om had an affinity towards socially relevant cinema. This drove him into doing movies like Aakrosh and Ardh Satya which proved to be box office hits.

A National School of Drama alumnus, Om also featured in movies like Dharavi and Mirch Masala and explored the comedy genre with Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Chachi 420, Hera Pheri, Malamaal Weekly and more.

Om Puri also nurtured an international career, which started with a cameo in Richard Attenborough’s iconic Gandhi. Among some of his British films were My Son the Fanatic, East Is East and The Parole Officer. He also appeared in Hollywood films including City of Joy, Wolf and The Ghost and the Darkness.