Om Puri’s outburst and apology a publicity stunt to promote his movie Gandhigiri?

Om Puri having spoken out in favour of Pakistani actors first emerged around September 27 but why?

Written by Sonup Sahadevan | Mumbai | Updated: October 5, 2016 11:06:51 am
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Has anyone heard of a movie named Gandhigiri? Chances are many haven’t yet. Do you know who the lead actor of the movie is? It’s none other than Om Puri. Any guesses about the release date of the film? It’s October 21.

Now Om Puri is a professionally trained theatre actor and a mighty good one indeed. In fact, a National award winner if I may add. And looking at his current antics, it won’t be too far-fetched to hazard a guess that this terrific actor may have delivered one of his finest acting performances yet again albeit on news channels this time bewildering the nation into believing his outbursts and hysteria on screen were for real.

When reports of Om Puri having spoken out in favour of Pakistani actors first emerged around September 27, my interest was piqued. I was keen to know where Puri had spoken out as Twitter and other social media platforms are not quite used by him to opinionate. A quick search revealed that the first statement airing his views supporting Pakistani actors was made in Lucknow while touring the city to promote Gandhigiri. Another story about Puri appeared on the same day in a tabloid suggesting how the actor was apparently involved in a scuffle with a scribe in the city after the latter quizzed him about his personal life. Good controversial stories to keep the film buzzing in which Puri plays the lead, I thought.

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A few days later Puri exploded (perhaps he was not happy with the tepid response his earlier pro-Pak actors opinion met with) and one saw his face plastered on news channels both from English to Hindi ones. For someone who is not exactly a dial-a-quote celebrity à la Mahesh Bhatt or as outspoken as an Anurag Kashyap and chooses to lead the life of a recluse unless he has a film to promote, here was Om Puri appearing on different channels all geared up to take the bull by the horns. Just that this time, he chose the side that he knew would grab maximum eyeballs and keep him controversially trending from prime time to super prime time. Unfortunately, it was not exactly an amusing sight to watch as a charged up, venom spewing, highly animated Padma Shri Om Puri threw caution to the wind and took on anchors arguing and fighting with them in the highest decibels that his baritone could afford. And just when one thought he would hold on to his stance with a trademark flourish irrespective of the severe backlash, in came his meek apology.

Apologies, both issuing and demanding one are nothing new for Puri. In 2011, the veteran actor ended up issuing an apology after passing derogatory remarks against politicians in his speech at the Ramlila Maidan during Anna Hazare’s campaign against corruption.

“I shouldn’t have used words like anpadh, nalayak (incompetent) and ‘ganwar'( a word often used to describe a backward and an illiterate person). That is not the language of Om Puri but when I was up there on stage I became the voice of the people. I should’ve stuck being myself.”

This time too perhaps it was not the ‘Om Puri language’ that was being bandied while passing the utterly deplorable and insensitive remarks at the martyrdom of Indian soldier Nitin Yadav. My question is in whose voice was Om Puri talking while blurting those abhorrent comments? Didn’t he even spare a thought for his late father who had served in the Indian army?

It’s difficult to imagine that this is the same actor who had once demanded an apology from Aamir Khan over the latter’s intolerance remarks. “Aamir should apologise to the nation for what he said. You are trying to incite people against each other,” Puri had told a TV channel then.

Also read | Anupam Kher slams Om Puri for insulting Indian martyrs
Aren’t you inciting people now by passing such inflammatory remarks, Mr. Puri? Or perhaps this is your way of delivering another stand-out performance to grab publicity for yourself. Build a leaping fire and then douse the flames by begging for forgiveness. It’s been your usual modus operandi and you have timed it well this time so as to ensure the smooth run of your movie’s trailer and music launch scheduled to happen today. You can escape with impunity now by saying you have apologised for your silly gaffe.

Perhaps, this brilliant performance deserves a lifetime achievement award. We are sure Mahatma Gandhi whose principles you are supposedly disseminating in Gandhigiri wouldn’t have approved of your unruly conduct but then as an actor I don’t think you really care about principles. For it was not Gandhi who asked you to become an actor and spread his teachings on screen. Right, Mr. Puri?

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