He is one of India’s most respected actors, having done an enviable range of roles spanning not just the worlds of art house cinema and mainstream Bollywood but also the west. Om Puri, however, is still deeply dissatisfied and says he’s an “untouchable” for commercial cinema. “I don’t get any meaty roles because there are hardly any meaty parts for character actors in our films,” the 60-year-old actor, who is looking at directing a film in the future, said.
Who can forget his comic timing in Chachi 420 and in that ultimate satire Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, or his nuanced portrayals of grey characters in Yuva and Maqbool. But the actor knows that he has a lot more to give. “I’ve not been fully utilised in commercial cinema. I mean the big banners have not touched me; I don’t know why I am an untouchable for them. Barring Karan Johar, with whom I worked in Kurbaan and now in the remake of Agneepath, other big banners usually don’t come to me,” he said, adding, “I think I will direct in the near future. I’ve still not seriously thought about it but occasionally I do think in that direction. So maybe in another five years, if I’m still around, I will take up direction.”
In his over 35-year acting journey, Om has given prolific performances in critically acclaimed non-commercial ventures, beginning with Ardh Satya and moving on to films such as Mirch Masala, Aakrosh and Dharavi. He also acted in English films like East is East and City of Joy. As far as commercial movies are concerned, after the success of Hera Pheri, the Padma Shri awardee has been mostly cast in comic roles in films like Singh Is Kinng and Malamaal Weekly. Om says he is not happy with the content of today’s comic capers and feels filmmakers need to work more on quality comedies. “It should have the quality of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. Lots of films have meaningless humour. In the recent past it was even worse. People used to laugh at the accent of a South Indian or a Bengali or a Punjabi or on a fat man. That was humour at the cost of someone else. But humour should be where everyone can enjoy together,” he said.
His next is also a laugh riot called Teen Thay Bhai and Om totally endorses it. “The script of this film is hilarious. I totally loved it.” The film is a Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra production and helmed by debutant director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba. It is the story of three brothers who dislike one another and details how fate unites them. Slated to hit the marquee April 15, the cast also includes Deepak Dobriyal, Shreyas Talpade and Ragini Khanna. Apart from liking the script, the actor agreed to the film because it was Mehra’s project, a filmmaker he deeply admires. The two have worked together in Rang De Basanti and Delhi-6. “I’m a great admirer of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s work. It’s his production though he is not directing it this time but he chose this project and I want to be in every film that he is associated with,” said Om. Apart from Teen Thay Bhai, the actor will be seen in films like Life Goes On, Agneepath 2 and Don 2.