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OM PURI BHI EK CHAI WALA THA AUR JAB WOH BOMBAY AAYA USKO KISI BHI STUDIO MEIN ENTRY NAHI DETE THE WATCHMAN – BY ALI PETER JOHN

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It is the good fortune of very few to come up the hard way and reach the pinnacle of success – ALI PETER JOHN

One has to pay a very heavy price to attain and achieve unbelievable success in some success stories, but with all the success sometimes life demands its own price for having granted some people what they could not even dream of in their wildest dreams-the story of Om Puri, one of the finest actors India has the proud privilege of having as her own but also an actor who is known as a fascinating actor in Great Britain and Hollywood.

His talent has won him every award possible both nationally and internationally. The boy who had absolutely no chances of making it as an actor refused to give up even though he had heavy small-pox marks on his face and who even worked as a helper in a “chaiwala’s” shop and a roadside “dhaaba” to make a living to continue his struggle as an actor.

He somehow reached New Delhi and managed to join the National School Of Drama where he made friends with some of the best actors who also turned out to be his friends for a lifetime.

Om who himself was not sure whether he would be accepted as an actor and strangely found his first break in a Marathi play, “Ghashiram Kotwal” based on a very controversial play written by Vijay Tendulkar.

That one role was the key to an entire treasure of roles in Hindi films, Punjabi films, television and theatre which was always his first love.

Om turned out to be one of the major actors of Indian cinema and while talking about Om as an actor, I can remember some of his best performances films like “Bhumika”, “Aakrosh”, “Gandhi”, “Chann Pardesi”, “ Ardh Satya”, “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron”, “Mirch Masala”, “Ghayal”, “Narsimha”, “Maya Memsaab”, “City Of Joy”, “Drohkaal”, “Maachis”, “My Son The Fanatic”, “Chaachi 420 ”, “Such A Long Journey”, “East Is East”, “Bollywood Calling”, “Maqbool”, “Dev”, “Rang De Basanti”, “Charlie Wilson’s War”, “West Is West”, “Agneepath” and “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”.

The list of an actor of his calibre can go on and on because he is the kind of actor who can only do his very best even in the most ordinary films.

He has a number of awards to his credit, but the two most important awards he considers close to him are the Padmashri from India and the OBE, an honour conferred on him by Queen Elizabeth for his outstanding contribution to cinema in Britain.

The OBE was received by a humble man who once couldn’t even speak a line of English.
He was going very strong; his romantic tangles were also talked about among his friends, well-wishers and even his rivals of which there were many.

It was during the shooting of “City Of Joy” in Kolkata that a young female journalist called Nandita called on him to do an interview with him.

Om found the girl interesting and they kept meeting regularly and finally reached a stage when they realised that they were in love even though Nandita was several years younger than him.

They had a great honeymoon travelling all over the beautiful places of the world. Om who had never thought about marriage found marriage to be a state of bliss.

They shifted into a bigger apartment and had a son who they named Ishaan who became the strong bond between Om and Nandita.

Things were going on like a dream till one day the journalist in Nandita woke up and decided to write a book on her husband who was very famous actor in India and Hollywood. Om gave her the permission and even all the time to tell her the story of his life.

He even told her stories he had kept a secret for years which included some of his affairs with different kinds of women from different sections of society, from the lowest to the highest.

He was entirely unaware that the journalist and writer in Nandita would get the better of her and she would not let any story told by him go waste when she wrote his biography.

Om was as busy as ever and had no time to go through what she had written till the book had gone into print and was titled “The Unusual Hero”.

It was only when everything was finalised for the release of the book by Amitabh Bachchan that Om felt like going through the book in casual way.

But he was in for one of his biggest shocks when he saw the stories about all the women in his life, including his affair with a “bai” (housemaid).

He was livid with anger, but it was too late for him to change anything in the book or the function planned to release the book.

On the evening the book was to be released Nandita was full of excitement on her first book being released by none other than Amitabh Bachchan.

Almost every big name in the industry was present at the function where Amitabh and some other speakers spoke very highly about Om, his work and his family life with Nandita and their son, Ishaan.

It was finally time for Om to speak and the man and actor who was so very eloquent when he spoke was stumbling for words and finally broke down in tears before the whole crowd of guests including Amitabh Bachchan.

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