THE film world has been mourning the death of the revered Bollywood actor Om Puri, whose many roles included an award-winning turn as the taxi driving father of a radicalised Islamic militant in Bradford.
Puri, 66, whose career spanned four decades, suffered a heart attack after returning to his home in Mumbai from a film set.
He became known to British audiences when he appeared in Hanif Kureishi’s Bradford-set drama, My Son The Fanatic, in 1997, and, two years later, the hit comedy, East Is East, set in Salford.
The Bradford film, in which his character’s son converts to fundamentalist Islam, leading to a family breakdown and social conflict, won him a Best Actor award at the Brussels International Film Festival.
Active in Indian cinema since the 1970s, he achieved his first breakout role, a minor one, in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi in 1982, followed a year later by Granada TV’s The Jewel in the Crown, which, Puri told The Yorkshire Post in 2004, “was my first contact with the outside world”.
Yesterday, the Emmerdale actor Chris Bisson, who co-starred with Puri in East Is East, called him “a great man, a great talent”
“He taught me a lot,” Mr Bisson added. “He was a guiding light whilst making East Is East.”
The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was one of the first to share a tribute to Puri.
A tweet from his office read: “The Prime Minister condoles the passing away of actor Om Puri and recalls his long career in theatre and films.”
Away from Bollywood, Puri appeared in the acclaimed TV adaptation of Zadie Smith’s novel, White Teeth in 2002.
He received an honorary OBE for his contribution to British cinema in 2004, and more recently starred alongside Dame Helen Mirren in the comedy, The Hundred-Foot Journey.