From his ‘Ardh Sathya’ to ‘AK 47’ in Kannada the gifted actor of Indian cinema OM PURI has surpassed 190 films in his career and still going strong. An extrovert Om Puri spoke to cinema journalists on Thursday at KSCA club on his signing the second film for production No.1 for producer Suresh Gowda that is being directed by M.S.Ramesh. As a matter of fact the punching dialogues Om Puri got in ‘AK 47’ compelled him to accept yet another Kannada film.
Here are the excerpts of a long chat with Om Puri:
What is the reason behind accepting these types of commercial films?
Commercial cinema has given me facility. That is the money from which I am able to maintain my family. My wife Nandita and son Ishan are comfortable. In accepting these commercial films I am not like others. Others accept 10 to 20 films. They have the standard and caliber. In my case only one film at a time and never worked for three films a day. I have one foreign project ‘White Sea’ and this Kannada film. I will be working in three schedules.
What do you do in your second Kannada film?
I play a cop role. I advise the students and make them aware their future. I tell them not to get exploited by political parties. The hero of the film is an innocent get entangled in a vicious plot. I derive what is correct and wrong in him. Sympathizes the hero.
Do you find any difference while working for a foreign and Indian film?
The foreign films have a method. Reading through and talking about the character is found there. It is a kind of workshop. When I did ‘City of Joy’ I experienced this methodology. Like wise most of the foreign films I have acted are not hardcore commercial films. It is like our Art films. Highlighting the social and multi cultural issues.
When you recall your earlier days, what do you feel now?
I was an underdog in my life for 10 years. After completing my education near a small town in Patiala, I always intended to join Army. But a casual fling with school plays blossomed into a full- fledged romance with the theatre. After college, I got a job as a lower division clerk. Worked as lab assistant. I remained as a part of a semi professional theatre group and eventually decided this was the profession for me. My family did not say much. After 3 years in National School of Drama questioned my decisions and did some radio plays. On the insistence of Naseeruddin Shah I joined Pune Film Institute. Lady luck stepped in the guise of a Hamlet. I even taught in theatre group the likes of Anil Kapoor and Gulshan Grover. Then came ‘Ardh Sathya’ that changed my life. That was the beginning to American, British and Canadian films. As a rikshaw puller in ‘City of Joy’, a South American mystic in ‘Wolf’ and an intelligence agent in ‘Such a Long Journey’ the career graph took a different turn. But I always believe my career lies in India. Out of 170 films I have done 90 percent are in Hindi.
Why the success rate is very low among Indian films?
Lethargy is the reason. They have a huge market at Home. They do not bother. They are all entertainers. Ask Subash Ghai or Shah Rukh Khan they all say film is just an entertainment. I believe we are not here to uplift the society. It is treated like a commodity.
What difference you draw between Art and Commercial films?
The media coins this. and no one in the Industry told. In the 50’s and 60’s there was no such tag was attached. Rajiv Gandhi never called himself as ‘Mr Clean’. It is like painting a realistic one and abstract one. Manirathnam made his on type of films. Roja and Bombay different films in the commercial set up.
What is lacking among the present genre of directors?
I always believe acting and directing are the two toughest ones. Rest of the departments in film making get job easily. A director needs the thought of what Arjuna of the Mahabharath had in mind when he saw a sparrow. Commercial or Art films must be issued based ones. For the sake of commercialization there is great degree of injustice. For a film like ‘Prem Granth’ a village story a beautiful one we find a progressive song in a sorrow time in the film. The foreign exotic locations like Switzerland, Australia, America, New Zealand have become part of our film makers.
How is the response to your latest release `Bollywood Calling’?
This was made by not a routine producer. One and half years there were no traditional distributors for it. The poor producer made this film with his money and from taking loans from his friends. We were forced to release it in a modest way. Only in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore we released the film. With no single poster and two hoardings and advertisements only in Midday and Times of India it is doing 8th week run. The audience wanted something different, fresh and better.
You accept films only for the sake of money?
Firstly comes money. I am not a greedy to be honest. The commercial cinemas are also not demanding. There is limited choice.
How did you like Bangalore?
It is a ‘City of Joy’. The traffic is too much now in Bangalore.