PUNE: Naseeruddin Shah and Prof Anil Zankar conducted a session titled ‘Knowing Om Puri’ at the 15th Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) on Monday.
The veteran actor, who has known Puri for more than five decades, said he envied him for his voice. “I always envied Om’s voice right from the time I met him. He had this nice texture and he envied my English,” Shah said while interacting with Zankar.
When a scene from Satyajit Ray’s Sadgati was shown to the audience, Shah said he also envied Puri for working with Ray. “I didn’t envy him for anything else. I think it was a perfect match; he had the same gentle intensity which Mr Ray seemed to like. He had certain hard qualities as well like we see in Ardh Satya,” said Shah.
He added that Puri always wanted to leave National School of Drama (NSD) because he felt that the English-speaking students like him were favoured. “He would tease me: I have done 25 English films and you have done only two.”
Prof Zankar, who was Puri’s junior at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), shared an anecdote. “Puri was shooting for a classmate’s diploma film. We were supposed to start shooting at 7 am and we couldn’t find him anywhere the previous day and somebody informed us that he had gone to Mumbai. But he reached on time after taking the night passenger train.”
Shah, who got emotional on several occasions while speaking about his friend, said he thanked nature for giving him a friend like Puri, whom he had known for 46 years. “I have learnt the value of hard work and fulfilling a job you have started from him.”
He said, “Unfortunately, his life took many unexpected twists and turns that could have happened to anybody. He was in an unhappy space in the last few years of his life and it’s good he moved on.”
“There are many things that I am completely incapable of like selflessness and generosity and seeing others’ views which Om had,” said Shah.
Talking about his relationship with Puri, Shah said, “My relationship with Om was complex and long lasting. I don’t need to tell anyone how much I loved him.”