Veteran Indian actor Om Puri, star of hit British film East Is East, has died aged 66.
Filmmaker and close friend of Puri, Ashoke Pandit, told The Indian Express on Friday: “Omji suffered from a massive heart attack in the morning today.”
Puri was one of India’s most critically acclaimed actors, and appeared in hundreds of films, both mainstream and art house and spanning Bollywood, Hollywood, Pakistan and Britain.
In landmark Indian movies of the 80s, he was known for his gritty performances, and in 2004 he was awarded an honorary OBE for his contribution to the British film industry.
As well as starring as the father in well-loved 2000 comedy East Is East, about a Pakistani immigrant adjusting to life in northern England, he also had roles in Richard Attenborough’s epic 1982 multi-Oscar-winning Gandhi, City of Joy, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and most recently in The Hundred-Foot Journey, in which he starred alongside Helen Mirren.
Just two weeks ago, the actor tweeted, reflecting on his life and four-decade career:
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 (@OmRajeshPuri) December 21, 2016
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office led tributes to Puri, as well as many leading actors, filmmakers and athletes:
The Prime Minister condoles the passing away of actor Om Puri & recalls his long career in theatre & films.— PMO India (@PMOIndia) January 6, 2017
So long Omji. Prided myself on being his friend peer & admirer. Who dare say my Om Puri is no more ? He lives through his work.— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) January 6, 2017
You will live in our hearts forever through the impressions you have left with your versatility. We will miss you. RIP #OmPuri— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) January 6, 2017
Sad to hear about the passing away of the very talented Om Puri, my co-actor in many films…heartfelt condolences to the family. #RIP— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) January 6, 2017
#OmPuri lent dignity to d medium he worked for. Whether it was stage, TV or cinema. He elevated status of the projects was associated with.— Anupam Kher (@AnupamPKher) January 6, 2017