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Om Puri: An actor for all seasons with remarkable range of expressions

The true tribute to any actor is in remembering some of their performances and for Om Puri, who succumbed to a sudden heart attack on Friday, there is no shortage of roles, big or small, heroic, comic or villainous, in masala or art films to recall his skill.

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His craggy, pockmarked but distinctive face may have kept him from becoming a leading man in films, but Om Puri used the remarkable range of expressions he could convey, from impotent rage to blazing menace to comic exasperation, along with his trademark baritone, to play some immortal roles on the big and small screen in India and abroad.

The true tribute to any actor is in remembering some of their performances and for Om Puri, who succumbed to a sudden heart attack on Friday, there is no shortage of roles, big or small, heroic, comic or villainous, in masala or art films to recall his skill.

Will we remember him for his depiction of the victimised tribal of “Aakrosh” (1980), conveying his anguished helplessness by facial expressions till the very last shocking scene when he finally opens his mouth in a loud protest, the hapless policeman in “Ardh Satya” (1982), the enthusiastic poetry-lover in “In Custody/Muhafiz” (1993) or sinister terrorist Sanatan in “Maachis” (1996).

Or will we prefer to remember him in another light, as suspicious secretary Banwari Lal in “Chachi 420” (1998), the jovial and kind but dutiful Inspector Khan in “Pyar To Hona Hi Tha” (1997) or determined Inspector Udham Singh in “Gupt” (1997). Then there is also his portrayal of British-Pakistani George Khan, who is loving but can be authoritarian and abusive towards his mixed family in “East Is East” (1999).

Any list of his most memorable performances is bound to be most subjective, but lets try to list six of them, from a wide swathe of his work.

“Ardh Satya” – This was the movie that made his name, and fetched him the National Award for Best Actor. As Sub Inspector Anant Velankar, Om Puri well conveyed the helplessness of a low-ranking police inspector who soon realises the limits of his uniform’s power, the shameless manipulation of power by the elite and how justice is only a word.

“Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron” (1983) – As Ahuja, the dipsomaniac and corrupt Punjabi builder who wears sun-glasses round the clock, Om Puri held his own against a powerhouse of abundant talent in this cult classic. He also grabbed some of the best scenes — especially the one in which he comes across Satish Shah propped in his coffin, thinks his car has broken down and tries to help him. He also pops up as a sun-glass sporting Duryodhana in the epic climax scene and has one of the film’s most-remembered dialogues, when he storms out of a meeting with his rival (Pankaj Kapoor): “Tarneja, tena main dekh lunga, D’Mello, tu te gaya.”

“Tamas” (1987) – In this disturbing story of the circumstances in which India and Pakistan were born as independent nations, Om Puri plays low-caste labourer Nathu, who is cynically manipulated into an act which leads to riots and eventually his own death.

“Bharat Ek Khoj” (1988) – Om Puri was the mainstay of Shyam Bengal’s epic journey around Indian history, popping up in most episodes in key roles as Duryodhana, Angulimala, Ashoka, Allaudin Khilji, Krishna Deva Raya, a rebel soldier in 1857, J.C. Nigam, the District Magistrate of rebellious Ballia in 1942, and so on. But his best was as Aurangzeb, especially when he faces a resentful Shivaji (Nasseruddin Shah), who does not mellow despite all his attempts at conciliation and ultimately puts gets Emperor into a towering rage.

“Kakkaji Kahin” (1988) – Based on writer Manohar Shyam Joshi’s political satire, this TV comedy saw Om Puri in the eponymous role of a thick-skinned, typical cow-belt wheeling-dealing politician who can solve any problem brought before him. Apart from his trademark guffaw, he was remembered for his literal translation from Hindi to English (eg. “Heart putting Kaushalpur king” for “Hriday rakhi Kaushalpur raja”).

“Mr Yogi” (1989) – Om Puri was the mysterious “sutradhar”, who confuses NRI Y.I. Patel (Mohan Gokhale) in India to find a bride and having to meet a dozen prospects from all the zodiac signs. In the final episode, Patel turns the tables and the sutradhar must turn into “Superman” to locate him (but being an Indian super hero, suffers due to weak batteries which see him tangled in a tree as he tries to fly and finally limp to his destination).

And let us end with two cameos where he well marked his presence – Nahari, the unrepentant rioter in Richard Attenborough’s “Gandhi” (1982), and as Gen Zia ul-Haq in “Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007), which shows how the Americans began their slide into the Afghan quagmire.

Entertainment

I wanted to do Sanjay Dutt’s role in ‘Sanju’, says Aamir Khan

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aamir khan sanju

Mumbai, May 23: Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan says he was offered to play the role of late Sunil Dutt in Rajkumar Hirani’s “Sanju”, the upcoming biopic on actor Sanjay Dutt, but he refused it only because he wanted to essay the title character.

Aamir interacted with the media here on Wednesday. Asked if he was offered to play the role of Sunil Dutt, he said: “He (Hirani) approached me with the script and I loved it. He wanted me to play Dutt saab’s role. It is a fantastic role and the story is largely on the father-son relationship. But Sanju’s role is unbelievable.

“So as an actor, I told Raju that Sanjay Dutt’s role is so wonderful that it won my heart. So in this film I can’t do any other role but Sanjay Dutt’s, which of course I cannot do because Ranbir (Kapoor) is playing it. So, do not offer me anything.”

Aamir Khan with Rajkumar Hirani at a book launch titled How to be Human: Life lessons from Buddy Hirani written by Manjeet Hirani in Mumbai on Monday. (PTI)

Aamir, who has clocked 30 years in the film industry, finds Ranbir a good actor and he is confident he must have done well in the film.

“I cannot wait to watch the film now,” said Aamir, who has worked closely with Hirani in films like “3 Idiots” and “PK”.

In real life, Aamir shared a strong bond with Sunil Dutt.

Reminiscing some fond memories of the late actor, he said: “He always sent me telegrams in those days to wish me on Diwali, Eid, birthday… If my film did well, he sent me a congratulations note.”

What was his favourite memory of Sunil Dutt?

Aamir said: “During the riots of 1993, the Hindi film industry took a delegation to the then Chief Minister to stop the riots. Around 40 people went to the CM’s office. After that, we decided that since no immediate action had been taken, we will sit under the statue of Mahatma Gandhi near Mantralaya. All 40 of us came and sat under the statue and we decided until the violence stops, we won’t move from there.

“For the night, we decided to continue it rotationally. So on the first time, Dutt Saab, Yash Chopra, Johnny Walker, I and one of the film producers, we all sat down together at night under the Gandhi statue. We spent the whole night there… Of course, the next day people came and by the evening the CM took some action.

“But for me, it was a memorable night where I was listening to the stories of their journey from Dutt saab and Johnny Walker. I remember that night very clearly. He was a very strong, dignified and gentle person.” Aamir confirmed he was producing the slain Indian music mogul Gulshan Kumar’s biopic with Bhushan Kumar.

IANS

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Entertainment

Sidharth Malhotra urges PM Modi to strengthen animal protection laws

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Sidharth Malhotra
Sidharth Malhotra (File Photo)

Mumbai, May 23: Bollywood actor Sidharth Malhotra has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, requesting stronger penalties for people who commit acts of cruelty against animals; reported news agency IANS.

Sidharth pointed out that India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, contains outdated penalties, such as a maximum fine of Rs 50 for convicted first offenders who abuse an animal, which he calls “barely equivalent to a slap on the wrist”.

“As a result, the newspapers are filled with reports of disturbing and egregious animal abuse in our country…including incidents in which dogs were poisoned, cows were burned with acid, and cats were beaten to death. This does significant damage to our reputation as a nation that respects animals,” he wrote.

The “Ek Villain” star said psychologists, sociologists, and law-enforcement officials have all documented that children who hurt animals often end up hurting other humans.

“If those guilty of cruelty to animals received jail time and significant fines – as well as counselling and a ban on contact with animals – it would help ensure that our duty under Article 51A(g) of the Constitution of India to show animals compassion is better upheld and respected and that society at large is protected from violent behaviour,” Sidharth wrote.

On the work front, Sidharth will next be seen in the Karan Johar-produced biopic on Kargil war hero Vikram Batra, who was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest war-time gallantry award.

With IANS Inputs

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Health

Can drinking too much water harm you?

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Water

Toronto, May 23: Do you drink too much water? Beware, overhydration — excess fluid accumulation — can lead to dangerously low sodium levels or in the blood or result in brain swelling, researchers say.

Hyponatremia, a life-threatening condition of brain swelling, is more common in elderly patients and can cause cognitive problems and seizures.

“(Hyponatremia) occurs in common pathological conditions, including brain injury, sepsis, cardiac failure and in the use of drugs, such as MDMA (ecstasy),” said Charles Bourque from the McGill University in Canada.

While it was yet uncertain how hyponatremia develops, the study found that a defect in the hydration sensing mechanism of the brain could be the culprit.

The researchers said that brain’s hydration sensing neurons could not detect overhydration in the same way that they detect dehydration.

Overhydration activates Trpv4 — a calcium channel that can be found in glial cells, that act to surround hydration sensing neurons.

It is cellular gatekeeper implicated in maintaining the balance of water in the body.

“Our study shows that it is in fact glial cells that first detect the overhydrated state and then transfer this information to turn off the electrical activity of the [hydration sensing] neurons,” Bourque explained.

“Our specific data will be important for people studying hydromineral and fluid electrolyte homeostasis, and clinicians who treat patients faced with hyponatremia,” he noted.

The results, published in the journal Cell Reports, showed that overhydration is first identified by the Trpv4 channel which triggers the release of a type of amino acid known, taurine, which acts as a trip wire to inhibit hydration sensing neurons.

“Preclinical models of hyponatremia will be used to examine if the mechanism we report is affected in this condition with the long-term objective of designing new treatments or diagnostic tools,” Bourque added.

IANS

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