Legendary Bollywood actor Om Puri’s untimely death was a shock not only for the Indian film industry, but also for his fans across the border.
The 66-year-old actor was known for his stellar performances in Bollywood, Lollywood and Hollywood. But, Puri was more than just an actor. He was also a strong proponent of Indo-Pak ties, making a strong case on numerous occasions for Pakistan’s film industry and its artistes.
Here are nine times Puri went out of his way to praise Pakistan and its film industry:
When Puri praised Lollywood
The versatile actor, who made his debut in Nabeel Qureshi’s Actor in Law in September 2016, held a media conference in Lahore to express his views about the kind of films made in Pakistan.
“While working here, I noticed that Lollywood has some of the best actors, directors and technicians. This has been an excellent experience and I would love to do more local films, even if my role in them is short.”
When Puri advocated the release of Pakistani movies in India
The actor, during his sixth visit to Pakistan, spoke up against the ban on Pakistani films in India. “Pakistani films should also be released in India,” IANS reported Puri as saying.
Lahore would be film capital if it weren’t for partition
The veteran Indian actor said Lahore could have been a hub of film industry if Pakistan and India were not separated.
“Great Indian actors came to Lahore to act, and legends like Pirthvi Raj Kapoor also benefited from the ancient city’s film industry,” Puri said, while speaking at a ceremony on his visit to Pakistan.
When he praised Lahoris for their warm welcome
“Whenever I come to Lahore, people give me respect and beautiful memories,” he said.
Bollywood should make more ‘socially conscious films’, says Om Puri
Puri, who played the lawyer father of the protagonist in ‘Actor in Law’ — a movie which explored social issues such as corruption and gender discrimination — said, unlike Bollywood, filmmakers for the Pakistani film industry work with much smaller budgets and are still trying to make a bigger impact in the international arena.
Fahad Mustafa can compete with any Bollywood actor: Om Puri
During the promotions of Actor in Law, Puri, did not hesitate to state how impressed he was by Fahad Mustafa. “Fahad is the diamond of Pakistan and could compete with any Bollywood actor in terms of talent.”
When Puri became the messenger of peace for India and Pakistan
Om Puri, during his visit to Pakistan claimed that majority of the people in both India and Pakistan want peace between the neighbouring countries. “I’d say about 95% of them want peace. Only 5% want trouble. I hope, someday, we can get over our differences and release Pakistani films in India too. We’ve got a huge market for Lollywood there.” he said.
When Puri expressed hope in Pakistani film industry
“In recent years, Lollywood has delivered films like Bol and Khuda Kay Liye which show that it is growing as an industry.” The future of Pakistan’s film industry is “very bright” he noted.
When he condemned terror activities in Pakistan
“I oppose terrorism activities in Pakistan and also condemn last year’s attack on Army Public School in Peshawar,”
In October last year, a police complaint was filed against the veteran actor for his comments that were found to be insulting to Indian soldiers by a section of the film industry. Complainant Prithvi Maske said, “Referring to the Indian Army and soldiers, he [Om Puri] said that we had not given the invitation to the soldiers of the Indian Army. They joined the army at their will.” During a debate on a TV channel, Puri had said: “Did we force them to join the army? My father was also in the army… We are proud of them (soldiers)… I am asking you: Do you want India and Pakistan to become Israel and Palestine?