OM PURI talks about LIFE GOES ON

Sharmila Tagore and Om Puri
Sharmila Tagore and Om Puri

January 9 2011 Kolkata (Calcutta Tube): Success is something which does not let go once you get a hold on it.  It comes across in your body language, speech, and personality. Om Puri is an example. Here was a man no one would call good-looking. His voice still brings a catch to your throat. But who would have cared for a rich voice on a pockmarked face on the large screen, emoting simply through his eyes in Aakrosh till one saw his anger sweep the screen leaving the audience speechless by the sheer power of his performance? He appears as Alok, a close family friend in Sangeeta Datta’s English-Indian film Life Goes On.

What kind of character is Alok?

He is a close friend of the Banerjee couple, Sanjoy and Manju, portrayed by Girish Karnad and Sharmila Tagore. Shooting in UK is not new for me. I have done East is East, The Parole Officer and Jagmohan Mundra’s Shoot on Sight (2007) Director Sangeeta Datta drew me because the film and the role were different. Alok is a family friend who has easy access in any part of the house. He has seen the three Banerjee daughters grow up. He carries a family secret within him. I liked the light exterior Alok wears to hide the pain of loneliness within.

[ReviewAZON asin=”B004G7GV38″ display=”inlinepost”]What is your take on acting per se?

After the National School of Drama and FTII, it has been a long and uphill journey.  I was bestowed the prestigious OBE by the Queen of England in 2004. But the entire definition of acting has undergone a sea-change. In the classical sense, an actor is expected to become a mirror of the reality around him. Today, an actor is expected to be more of an entertainer, a performer than an actor. He must have a six-abs body, rippling muscles, a chiselled face. He should know to shake his hips, be a master at singing and dancing, etc. Acting today is not just emoting or delivering your lines in front of the camera.

What kind of actor would you call yourself?

I try to be as versatile as I can. I believe that all good actors must be conditioned to play all sorts of roles. There are some roles that are closer to your personality than others. The characters that are closer to the real you, are easy to enact. Roles that are far removed from your personality need to be really worked at very hard. I find dialogue-centric roles easier to perform. Roles like the one I did in Aakrosh are both demanding and challenging.

What decides you to accept an assignment?

I try to make a positive choice avoid roles and films I feel are reactionary. A good role, a good director, a good film are my markers. My use of the word ‘reactionary’ please note, is purely in its artistic and creative sense and not in any communal or political sense. I also know that this narrows down my choice considerably. But sometimes, I do give myself liberties, especially in films that are global or being made in English. You cannot begin to imagine the perfection they try to achieve. For East is East, we worked with language trainers who taught me the precise nuances that should come into English spoken by a Pakistani Muslim who lives in the UK, is not highly educated and is fiercely possessive about his roots

We would like you to tick off the ten best films of your career.

Difficult to do but here we go. The films that surface at once are – Aarohan, Ardh Satya, Aghaat, Aakrosh, Susman, Tamas, My Son the Fanatic, City of Joy, Bollywood Calling and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. Among mainstream films, my recent favourites are, Gupt, Kurukshetra, China Gate, Maqbool and Dev.

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