View this email in your browser

"I have no regrets at all. I have done quite well for myself. I didn't have a conventional face, but I have done well, and I am proud of it."  Om Puri
Issue #3
January 8, 2016
You know it when you see it. Talent on screen that takes your breath away, transforming a story on celluloid to an experience that changes the way you see the world, and yourself.
Very few actors possess the ability to create cinematic moments with this impact. This week we lost one who could. Om Puri was one of Indian cinema's finest actors. Incredibly gifted and versatile, Puri appeared in almost 300 films in his 40 year career.  

He often chose stories that addressed controversial issues effecting the common man - police corruption and class violence – and yet his comedic timing was impeccable.
Puri transcended the geographic borders that still limit most actors from India, appearing in films in the U.K with East is East and the U.S., including the recent Hundred Foot Journey with Helen Mirren.

He leaves behind a legion of global fans, a timeless body of work and his imprint on young brown actors who looked to him as a gleaming light of possibility.

We take this time to remember the impact he had on others and honor the man and his vast contributions to Indian and global cinema. Rest in peace Om Puri.

Two personal stories below illustrate the impact Om Puri had on so many.

The first movie of Om Puri's I ever saw was East is East. I mean, sure, I had seen Gandhi when I was a kid but I think the Care Bear movie meant more to me at the time. But East is East came into my life when I was just understanding representation and identity as an Indian-American actor in college.

At my school, I was one of two South Asians in my department. My high school pal, Megan Schutzenhofer had asked me if I had heard of this movie East is East ? I was like, no. And Meg gave me that look like I was a bad Indian. I went to the old Hollywood Video in Lakeview to rent it and there was a previously owned copy for sale and I just bought it. Watching it on my combo tv/vcr as all good college kids have, I was shocked to see so many brown western actors on film. Jimi Mistry, Archie Punjabi and Om Puri as the Patriarch. Wow. He was just like my dad. And he looked like me too. The nose! The schnozz! His warmth and pathos and anger reminded me about my own upbringing.

His father in the film struggled with the ways of the old world and his rebellious children of the new world. That performance and film has always stuck with me. I'm envious of my friends Rizwan Manji, Manish Dayal and Samrat Chakrabarti, who had the chance to work with the great Om Puri. He will be missed. Another great, gone too soon.
Om Puri in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron


Vijay Prashad, historian, journalist, commentator, Marxist intellectual and author shares his personal favorite Om Puri film moments and the profound impact the actor made in the world of Indian social cinema.

Om Puri was the opposite of a bureaucrat, although in my favorite film — Ardh Satya (1983) — he played a police officer, and in many films he played policemen and IAS officers. He had the capacity to be stern on screen, the hat under his arm, the baton parallel to the ground. But behind that studied poise were his eyes — gentle and revealing. Ardh Satya  — directed by Govind Nihalani — reveals the corruption of the system and the impossibility of being good inside the system.

Om Puri plays an honest police officer whose every move runs into the entanglement between the mafia and local politicians. Matters are so bad that in the end the officer has to throw himself at the mercy of the local political kingpin, who humiliates him to the point that Om Puri kills him. There is no idealism of the bureaucrat, the sense that good people can heal a corrupt system. It is a wretched world, made worse by the difficulty of changing it.

Dark and gloomy films do not exhaust Om Puri’s work. He was an actor of considerable range. One of his early films — Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983) — once more focused on corruption, but this time with satire as its mood. Om Puri’s Ahuja, finding the coffin with the corpse of the Municipal Commissioner on the road, is a master-class in comedy. There he is, drunk, thinking that the coffin is a car, chatting with the corpse, trying to change the nonexistent tire on the coffin. Even in some of the more forgettable films over the last decade (such as Mumbai Xpress), Om Puri’s comedic timing is apparent. He was sincere in making you laugh and cry. Read more...

A look at Om Puri's best  performances, including his award winning roles in Indian cinema and the beloved U.K. film, East is East.
The Hundred Foot Journey - Official Trailer
Watch Om Puri in The Hundred Foot Journey.
Reach us at
Copyright © 2016 Republic of Brown , All rights reserved.

 update your preferences or unsubscribe