Om Puri- Candid till curtain call
Mumbai- Om Puri was no stranger to controversy. In fact, he appeared to court controversy at every turn in his life.
The brilliant actor who starred in several art and commercial films, and is survived by estranged wife Nandita and son Ishaan, often made blunt and outspoken comments on various issues on public platforms. He was castigated for several of them, but refused to back or bow down.
In a way, he was paid back in the same coin through Nandita's 2013 biography, 'Unlikely Hero:The story of Om Puri', in which she highlighted some of his most private sexual incidents. Puri had at the time said, " I don't care if she's my wife. I won't let her get away with it." The incident led to their eventual estrangement and a long drawn legal separation.
His last public salvo was during a live TV debate just before the release of 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' in October 2016, when Puri commented, "Who asked the soldiers to join the army? Who told them to pick the weapons?" The comment resulted in a police complaint being filed against him, and an eventual apology from Puri - "...I don't want to be forgiven. I am pleading to the nation I want to be punished."
In August, he had launched another tirade against politicians from the Ramlila Maidan stage where social activist Anna Hazare was sitting on a hunger strike. Puri took a dig at politicians, "Yeh anpadh hain, inka kya background hai? Aadhe se zyaada MP ganwaar hai.." After a public backlash, this comment too was followed by a regretful apology for calling the politicians uneducated. Puri said he respected Parliament and the Constitution. "I am proud to be an Indian."
Earlier in 2016, Puri had reacted to Aamir Khan's controversial statement that his family felt 'insecure' in the country's atmosphere of growing intolerance. Puri reacted with, "I am shocked Aamir Khan and his wife feel that way. I feel Aamir's reaction to intolerance overblown and intolerable."
Puri also had a stand on the cow slaughter issue in the country. "Who wanted to put a ban on slaughtering cows in the country were hypocrites. We export beef and earn dollars from it."
Then there was the time when Puri called Naxals 'fighters not terrorists'. He told the media that Naxals are fighters who fight for their rights. "They don't harass the common man and the poor."
The comments reflected Puri's strong sentiments and involvement with the country's issues, although the subsequent apologies also reflected an inclination to stay in citizens' good books.
Following his stringent comments on the army, the actor said he was considering retirement. “Yes, I might quit (acting) altogether. At the moment, I’ve received an offer from Canada for a three-month assignment from January 2017 onwards, which I plan to take up,” he told the media.
That was never to be.