Patrick Swayze on Om Puri: 'He became the big brother I never had in real life'
When Nandita C Puri wrote the biography of her husband, late actor Om Puri (Unlikely Hero, published by Lotus/Roli Books) it had a foreword by Hollywood actor Patrick Swazye.
Swayze and Om Puri had worked together in City of Joy in 1991; but their friendship continued off screen as well. This wasn't a surprise, because as Swayze writes, they didn't just bond over the film and their roles, they forged a connection as individuals who had endured a great deal in their personal lives that not many followers of their professional work knew about.
Swayze described how he had an ‘Om Puri film festival’ before he met his co-star on the sets of City of Joy. Satyajit Ray’s Sadgati became his favourite performance of the Indian actor, although he later writes that Puri’s work as Hasari Pal in City of Joy was deserving of an Academy Award.
While Swazye went into some detail about what he admired in Puri as an actor, it is his portrait of his co-star as a human being that is truly engrossing.
“The thing I was most amazed (by) about Om, was that he had lived a life that could have produced a bit of rage, but he somehow transformed it into a great deal of love. It exudes from him and is contagious. And that perhaps, is the reason he became the big brother I never had, in real life,” Swayze wrote.
The Hollywood star called Om Puri his ‘Pied Piper who helped him understand India in every way’, describing how they would spend hours talking (with Swayze doing most of the listening), and how -- after a few beers -- the ‘dancer’ in Om would come out.
The most moving part of the foreword is towards the end when Swayze talks about working at Mother Teresa’s home for the dying. He writes: “The first day when I was working (there), I realised I was the one to be pitied, not the dying. Because I got so much from life and did so little with it. And Om helped me in this endeavour of mine.”
“Om taught me to move through the world with all the dignity we possess."
Patrick Swayze died in the September of 2009 at the age of 57, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. His friend and co-star lived on to the age of 66, before he passed on too.
Perhaps somewhere right now, they've resumed a conversation they started all those years ago in Kolkata, on the sets of City of Joy.
Updated Date: Jan 06, 2017 10:20 AM