Pakistan’s most successful film last year Actor in Law starred Om Puri in a pivotal role. The film’s director Nabeel Qureshi and producer Fizza Ali Meerza, who also co-wrote the film, remember their association with the celebrated actor who passed away suddenly on January 6.
The first time we spoke to him was after he had read his character in Actor in Law. In the first few sentences of our phone conversation, Om Puri Ji melted away all our nervousness by praising the concept and expressing his willingness to do the role. It was probably the best moment of our lives. Having hung up the phone, we hopped and jumped out of sheer happiness…
The first time we met him was in Karachi. In his hotel room to discuss the scenes and shooting plans, he asked us if we would like to have some tea? We said yes. He then called room service and placed an order for two cups of tea. We were a bit confused. “Sir, three cups…” we tried to intervene. He smiled. “Do mein se teen banjayeinge yaar,” he assured us, “yeh hotel walay zyada dete hain. [We’ll get three cups out of two, yaar, these hotel people give extra anyway.]” Who would have thought a star of Om Puri’s stature would be thinking about saving money for his filmmakers.
When we heard the terrible news of his passing on January 6, our minds raced back to the time we spent together. Ironically, it was the same day last year, January 6, 2016, when we began shooting with him for Actor in Law. It was like a dream come true, working with such a legendary actor. Despite being an actor of such stature, he never let us feel that we were amateurs compared to him. He was very friendly yet professional but the most important thing was getting to know him as a person while working so closely with him.
The first day of our shoot was no different from the last day we shot together. He had a unique uniformity in his behavior be it in terms of professionalism, work ethics, friendliness or his kind concern towards the whole team. He was always full of life and the kind of positive energy he shared with everyone was very rare to see.
He always promoted peace and humanity. When we visited him at his house in Mumbai, he and his son welcomed us holding a flag which read ‘Ye sansaar hamara hai, aman humara naara hai’ [The world is ours, and peace is our slogan.]
He was a big foodie and a great cook. When he was here in Pakistan for shooting he cooked some great vegetarian food for us. And when we were in Mumbai for Actor in Law’s sound, post and his dubbing, he didn’t let us eat on our own even a single day. He took us to all the famous restaurants and eateries and even flew to Delhi one day just to bring back some Kakori and Galawati Kebabs for us. That’s just who he was.
He was magical! He became whatever he wanted to, sometimes acting like our father, sometimes our friend, and always like our mentor. He literally changed our perspective towards life! He always promoted peace and humanity. When we visited him at his house in Mumbai, he and his son welcomed us holding a flag which read ‘Ye sansaar hamara hai, aman humara naara hai’ [The world is ours, and peace is our slogan.]
Description: m Puri with director Nabeel Qureshi and actors Fahad Mustafa and Mewish Hayat at the Actor In Law launch
Om Puri with director Nabeel Qureshi and actors Fahad Mustafa and Mewish Hayat at the Actor In Law launch
He was a man beyond boundaries who dreamt of living in a peaceful society free of all biases.
Every time he came to Pakistan, his love for the people and the place was extremely pure. I cannot recall him ever refusing his fans for pictures or selfies.
The promotional tour of Actor in Law will remain as one of the most special promotions a film can have. Om Puri Ji spent 12 days with us in five major cities of the country only to promote our film. He told us he had never done this for any other film in his career.
When he was here in Pakistan he cooked some great vegetarian food for us. And when we were in Mumbai, he didn’t let us eat on our own even a single day. He took us to all the famous restaurants and even flew to Delhi one day just to bring back some Kakori and Galawati Kebabs for us. That’s just who he was.
We want all his fans to know that Om Puri was not just a great actor but an even greater human being. We only got to know him for a year but the kind of bond we shared with him was as if we had known him for decades, he was so loving and caring.
We travelled together, we danced together, we worked together. We had a great time with him and we shall cherish it for all our lives. He left us too early, that’s the biggest regret we have.
The last time we spoke to him was on December 29, a week before the tragic news came — we used to call each other quite often. He told us about shooting for Salman Khan’s film. After the shoot he wanted to take a break. We asked him to meet up in Dubai next month, as we planned to go for the Pakistan Super League taking place there in February. He agreed but said it should be for a week, not just three or four days. “Arrey teen chaar din ke liye bhi koi aata hai! [Who comes for just three or four days!]” he asked in his typical style. “Main tumko aisa Dubai dikhaounga saaloun tum ne kabhi dekha nahi hoga! [I will show you the kind of Dubai you haven’t ever seen!]. Those were last words we ever shared.
One meets many people in life; some you instantly forget, the memories of some fade away with time. But some are never to be forgotten. Om Puri Ji was one of those. He shared a very special bond with us, which is difficult to even put into words. We feel blessed to have known him and so unfortunate to have lost him so soon. It makes us emotional to even refer to him in the past tense rather than the present. For us he will remain ‘is’, not ‘was.’
Rest in peace Sir Om Puri Ji. You will continue to live in our memories and our hearts always!!!
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