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  Entertainment   Bollywood  07 Jan 2017  Om agreed to work for Rs 5,000 in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro: Kundan Shah

Om agreed to work for Rs 5,000 in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro: Kundan Shah

Published : Jan 7, 2017, 12:07 am IST
Updated : Jan 7, 2017, 7:20 am IST

Artistes talk about the genius of Om Puri, as they look back at his rich body of work and reminisce about the common man.

A still from Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
 A still from Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro

Veteran actor Om Puri, who passed away on Friday morning, has worked with the who’s who of the Hindi film fraternity. And while many big names could speak about him for hours on end, there’s one gentleman in particular, who knew the actor a little better than most did, and possibly put his trust in the actor before anyone else did — Kundan Shah. Director of the 1983 mad-cap hit Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, arguably one of Om’s finest performances in his entire career, the filmmaker speaks of him with a fondness that one shares for a friend more than a colleague. Paying rich tribute to the actor, he said, “It’s been a pleasure working with Om, because somehow, he had the knack of catching the soul of his character. This is a trait of rare actors — the likes of Robert De Niro possess it,” said the director.

Sharing a nugget from when Om signed on for Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Kundan talked about how Om actually stepped into the role at the last minute. “The role Om did in the movie was to be played by Pankaj Kapur. However, the actor who was supposed to play Tarneja backed out close to the shoot and Pankaj was shifted to Tarneja’s role. And 15 days before the shoot, we needed someone to play Ahuja,” he says. “I remember he stayed at Marine Drive with mentors from FTII back then. I stood in the balcony and told him, ‘Om, main film bana raha hoon, and this role is lying vacant. What do I do?’ He instantly told me, ‘Main kar loonga na!’ I told him I barely had Rs 5,000 or Rs 6,000 to offer, and he said fine, no problem. This was a big moment, when an actor says he’ll do a role even with that much money.”

Kundan ShahKundan Shah

A hallmark of Om’s talent, reveals Kundan, was his ability to imbibe the character’s spirit. “When we were dubbing for the movie, he used to arrive on a motorcycle. We learned that he had been cast in Ardh Satya, and had been preparing for his role in it. He was learning to ride the bike as he was getting into the skin of his character. Very rarely do I get asked what makes a character tick. With that question, I can figure out what the actor is looking in the character. What Om did was find this ‘ticking’ of his character.”

The director talks about another prominent movie from Om’s career, Mandi. “Being correct and being honest to the role is more important than unnecessarily playing it over the top. You see his explanation of his role in Mandi that way. I remember only Om Puri from the movie! That was his greatness — he used to get the soul of his characters,” signs off Kundan.

Rakesh Bedi
Om and I were batch mates in FTII. The first time I met him was in 1974 when we took our admission. We’ve been friends for almost 42 years now. He was a very good man and his sudden demise is very disturbing. It’s a huge loss to the film industry. He came from a very humble background; his father was from the Army.

Rakesh BediRakesh Bedi

The film industry was glamour struck, so when he came into the industry looking like a common man, everybody thought he was ‘too common’ for an acting course. But he proved himself. People could see his progress as an actor because he proved that eventually it’s talent that works and not just your looks. He proved it all over the world.

He was a simple man with simple needs but people never knew that thanks to his serious persona in cinema. He had a great sense of humour; he used to laugh a lot and crack jokes. He was also a dreamer. He used to look forward to getting intense roles but lately because of his health issues he had taken a back seat from work. He had developed chronic back problem but despite that he used to work hard.

He never used to talk about his personal life. He kept most of his personal life issues to himself and he never shared that with his friends.

Kabir KhanKabir Khan

Kabir Khan
He was one of the finest actors I have ever come across. This news came as a shock to all of us. I recently met him for the shoot of my film, Tubelight. He has a brief role in it. I last met him on Dec 23rd in Mumbai.

Our friendship goes back a very long way; I have known him for quite a long time. His five minute cameo in Bajrangi Bhaijaan had a strong impact too. This is a great loss for the entire film industry.

Juhi ChawlaJuhi Chawla

Juhi Chawla
I worked with him briefly in A Hundred Foot Journey. I was doing a guest appearance in the film, and had just two days of filming to do. I remember on the sets I was a little awkward, as I was totally new to the unit. The entire team had been filming in France and they had completed the film. They had come to Mumbai for the opening scene, in which I was involved, and it was also the last sequence that was left to be shot. I was the odd one out, but Om Puriji made it a point to come and sit and chat with me so I’d feel at ease. There was just one shot where we were in the same frame; the remaining scenes were with the rest of the cast. When I saw the film I was amazed at his wonderful performance. Effortlessly funny, yet so effective in the emotional parts, he was superb in the film and a superlative actor even otherwise.

As told to Rohit Bhatnagar and Uma Ramasubramanian

Tags: om puri, jaane bhi do yaaro, kundan shah