Veteran actor Om Puri, one of the most versatile and intense artistes in Indian cinema, passed away at his residence here in the early hours of today after suffering a massive cardiac arrest.
He was 66.
The actor's friends, who reached his residence after hearing the news, said he appeared to have suffered a heart attack this morning.
According to various sources, Puri had returned home last evening after a shoot. This morning, his driver raised an alarm when he got no response after repeatedly ringing the door bell. The actor was found dead when the door was forced open, they said.
Born on October 18, 1950, at Ambala in Haryana to a Punjabi family, Puri had earned an enviable reputation with his work, first in art cinema and later in mainstream commercial Indian, British, Hollywood and Pakistani films as well as in independent films.
Puri graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune and was also an alumnus of the National School of Drama (NSD), Delhi, from where he passed out in 1973 and had the well-known actor Naseeruddin Shah as a co-student.
He made his film debut in 1976 in Marathi film Ghashiram Kotwal, based on the play of the same name by Vijay Tendulkar.
Puri was one of the leading lights, along with Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil, in the so-called "art films" of those years such as Bhavni Bhavai (1980), Sadgati (1981), Ardh Satya (1982), Mirch Masala (1986) and Dharavi (1992).
He won critical acclaim for his performances in films such as Aakrosh (1980), Disco Dancer (1982) and Ardh Satya. He got the National Award for Best Actor for Ardh Satya for his role as a police inspector.
He also acted in movies such as Maachis in 1996, Gupt (1997) and Dhoop (2003).
In 1999, he acted in Kannada movie AK 47 and also in British comedy East is East, in which he played a first generation Pakistani immigrant in the north of England, struggling to come to terms with his far more westernised children.
He had a cameo in Richard Attenborough's highly-acclaimed film Gandhi (1982).
By the mid-1990s, Puri began appearing in character roles in mainstream Hindi cinema, which won him a following among the masses. He also appeared in British films such as My son the Fanatic (1997) and The Parole Officer (2001).
In Hollywood, he appeared in films such as City of Joy (1992) with Patrick Swayze; Wolf (1994) with Jack Nicholson; and The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) with Val Kilmer. In 2007, he appeared as General Zia-ul-Haq in Charlie Wilson's War, which starred Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.
Puri also appeared in Hindi television serials such as Kakkaji Kaheen (1988) as a paan-chewing 'Kakkaji', which was a parody on politicians, and Mr. Yogi (1989) as a suave 'sutradhaar' who enjoys pulling the protagonist's leg. These two serials underlined the actor's abilities as a comedian.
He received critical acclaim for his performance in Govind Nihalani's television film Tamas (1987) based on a Hindi novel of the same name.
He played comic roles in Hindi films like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro which attained a cult status, followed by Chachi 420 (1997), Hera Pheri (2000), Chor Machaye Shor (2002) and Malamaal Weekly (2006).
In recent years, he appeared in Hindi films such as Singh Is Kinng, Mere Baap Pehle Aap and Billu. He was seen in the role of Mohammad Ali Kasuri in Road to Sangam (2009). In 2010, he appeared in The Hangman. In 2011 he was in the Indian action movie Don 2.
In 2014, he appeared opposite Helen Mirren in the comedy-drama The Hundred-Foot Journey.
Puri married Seema Kapoor in 1991 but they separated some months later. In 1993, he married Nandita Puri, with whom he had a son. The couple separated in 2013.
The Government honoured him with the Padma Shri in 1990.
He had won the National Award for Best Actor for Arohan in 1982 and the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award for Aakrosh in 1981, for Ghayal in 1990, Maachis in 1997, gupta in 1998 and Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha in 1999.
He was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.