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“My contribution will be visible once I leave this world” : Veteran Actor Om Puri dies of Heart Attack at 66

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Om Puri, Twitter
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– by Arundhuti Banerjee

Mumbai, Jan 6, 2017:  Did Om Puri have a premonition about his death when he spoke about it to IANS just a fortnight ago? In retrospect, it would seem so, because he talked about “leaving the world” and that his legacy would be “visible” once he departed.

 His comments on leaving the world have become a reality too soon.

In one of his last interviews, which took place at a hotel here on December 23, 2016, Om Puri told IANS: “My contribution as an actor will be visible once I leave this world and the young generation, especially film students will watch my films.”

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The 66 year-old actor died of a heart attack at his residence here early morning on Friday.

Today, as he leaves a void in the world of cinema with his untimely demise, the film fraternity is looking back at his vast contribution to showbiz. Theatre, television, Indian and British films, Hollywood and Pakistani cinema — he did it all and left a lasting impression. His legacy, celebrities said, will live on.

A lover of alternate cinema with socially relevant themes at its core, Om Puri said: “For me, the real hard-hitting cinema was between 1980s and 1990s where Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Basu Chatterjee, Mrinal Sen and Gulzar made some remarkable films.”

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He worked in multiple projects with Nihalani and Benegal — films like “Aakrosh”, “Ardh Satya” and “Tamas” which catapulted him into the realm of great actors. Both the directors were overcome by emotions when IANS contacted them after news of Om Puri’s death broke. In shaky voices, both said it was too early to talk.

Just days earlier, he was happily interacting with young scribes to promote his upcoming political satire “Rambhajan Zindabad”. Casually dressed in a pair of baggy jeans and a black shirt, he was, as was his style, devoid of any airs about his stardom — a position not defined by fanatical, frenzied fans, but by the sheer following of his nuanced performances and undying passion for art.

He was — as the biography by his former wife Nandita Puri — rightly says, an “Unlikely Hero”.

The veteran actor, a recipient of Padma Shri, started his journey as an actor with a Marathi film “Ghashiram Kotwal” in 1972. If he featured in some intense dramas, he also balanced out his filmography with movies like “Mirch Masala”, “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro”, “Chachi 420”, “Hera Pheri”, “Malamaal Weekly” and more.

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“There are two kinds of cinema — one is just for entertainment, the other touches your heart. Both have their own purpose,” Om Puri had told IANS.

When he was chairman of the National Film Development Corporation, Om Puri was focussed on encouraging meaningful films. The National School of Drama alumnus was also president of Cine and TV Artistes Association.

More recently, he featured in Bollywood films like “Ghayal Once Again” and “Mirzya”, as well as in Pakistani film “Actor In Law”. He even used his distinct baritone for the voice of black panther Bagheera in the Hindi dubbed version of Hollywood film “The Jungle Book”.

Age did not slow him down. He was busy dabbling in multiple projects like “Viceroy’s House”, “Tubelight” and “Manto”.

The two-time National Film Award winner was bestowed the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award, in 1990.

His international career took off as early as 1982 when he featured in a small role in Oscar-winning film “Gandhi”. It also set the stage for him to explore more on foreign shores — his British films were “My Son the Fanatic”, “East Is East” and “The Parole Officer”, and his Hollywood movies included “City of Joy”, “Wolf”, “The Ghost and the Darkness” and “The Hundred-Foot Journey”.

In 2004, he was made an honorary officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to the British film industry.

While he had a glorious journey in the film world, his personal life went through turbulence. In 2013, his wife had filed a case against him, alleging domestic violence. They separated, leaving him with only visitation rights to their son, Ishaan.

He was frank and blunt about his views — and just last year, he faced the brunt of it when a police complaint was filed against him for his comments that were found to be insulting to Indian soldiers. In 2015, he spoke on the issue of cow slaughter in India. In 2012, he had landed in a bit of a soup after he called Naxals “fighters not terrorists”.

But Om Puri remained fearless till the end — in his works and his words. (IANS)

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Heart attacks more common in winter

Every second person in the age group of 30 and above, who are already otherwise at risk, is prone to heart failure during winter, experts say

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heart attack
Heart attacks are most likely in winters.

Think twice if you find alcohol the solution for keeping your body warm during winter. Medical experts caution that, apart from the common cold and cough, winter is also the time when more heart attacks occur. Every second person in the age group of 30 and above, who are already otherwise at risk, is prone to heart failure during winter, experts say.

They also say that one should not ignore irregular discomfort in chest, severe sweating, pain in the neck, arms, jaws and shoulders or shortness of breath during winter, which are major symptoms of heart failures.

Heart attacks are most likely to happen to old people in winters. Flickr

According to Vanita Arora, associate director and head of Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab and Arrhythmia Services in Max Hospital, “Everyone knows winter is the cold and flu season. But most people are unaware of the fact that it is also the prime season for heart attacks.”

She said during winter, the arteries become constricted with the fall in temperature, as a result of which the heart has to put in more effort to pump the blood. “This makes the heart stress out and it leads to a heart attack,” Arora told IANS, adding: “It is more risky for those who do not have any inkling about pre-existing heart conditions.”

Arora said that people above 30 should never indulge in overdoing anything and exhausting oneself in winter. She suggested that people, and especially diabetic patients, should avoid going for a walk in the morning on extremely chilly days and should shift their walks to the late afternoon when it is still sunny.

Arora said that too much alcohol intake during winter can cause atrial fibrillation, the most common irregular heartbeat problem called arrhythmia. In this, people tend to suffer from palpitations, fainting, chest pain or congestive heart failure.

Also Read: Heart Attack Symptoms In Women Often Misinterpreted

Heart experts said that a constant check on cardiovascular risk factors is one way to ensure that the winter season doesn’t harm one’s health. People should avoid overeating during winter and should rather eat in small quantities at regular intervals, experts suggest.

Neeraj Bhalla, senior consultant in cardiology at the B.L. Kapoor Memorial Hospital, said that as the blood’s viscosity increases with the drop in temperature, heart attacks and other coronary artery diseases increase during winter.

“Cholesterol levels fluctuate significantly with the change in season, which may leave people with
borderline high cholesterol with greater cardiovascular risk during the winter months. Apart from managing cholesterol levels, it is crucial that we keep small things in mind and do not stress the heart”, Bhalla said.

People staying in places where the seasons change very frequently are more prone to heart failures in comparison to those living in cold countries. Heart failure leads to most deaths in hypothermia – a condition in which the core temperature drops below the temperature for normal metabolism. Bhalla said to keep hypothermia at bay, it is advisable to cover yourself with layers of warm clothes. Besides this, it is advisable to take a bath only with warm water.

Alcohol should be avoided to keep body warm during winters.

Chandan Kedawat, senior consultant cardiology at the Pushpawati Singhania Research Institute, said: “In cold weather, the heart demands more oxygen because it is working harder.” Studies have shown that heart attacks and complications related to heart disease occur more frequently in the morning hours.

Research suggests that the early-morning rise in blood pressure or “a.m. surge” that occurs in most people may dramatically increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. “In the winter, people tend to exert themselves or do more work in the morning because it gets dark earlier,” Kedawat said.

“This shift of activities to morning hours adds to the normal circadian variation (cardiac variations that recur every 24 hours) in the mornings – further increasing the heart rate, blood pressure and the hormones that lower the threshold for a cardiovascular event,” he explained. He advises that the best way to prevent such situations for people above 30 is to go for an alternate day check up to the doctors. IANS