Om Puri belonged to a select group of actors who appeared on the scene almost around the same time in the second half of the 1970s. Several were graduates from the National School of Drama, who later went through an acting course at the Film & Television Institute of India. Each one without exception was a brilliant actor…. Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Pankaj Kapur to name a few. Among them was a most unlikely candidate, Om Puri. He was thin, pockmarked with an awkward gait and did not seem to merit a second glance. But hidden in him was an incredible talent and an iron will to succeed. He had two things going for him. His marvellous voice and the incredible way he transformed himself into the persona he played. His presence whether on stage or on camera was riveting.
After casting him in a couple of promotional docudramas, I made Arohan with Om playing the lead role in 1981. This got him his first national award. Govind Nihalani was the cinematographer on that film and soon Om acted in Govind’s outstanding films Aakrosh and Ardh Satya, winning his second National Award for the latter. His range was immense. He excelled in comedy and farce just as much as he did in dramatic roles. He was at his hilarious best in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Kundan Shah’s classic film.