He could be a vicious villain, a gentle father, a stubborn head of family or a conscientious police officer…
Steven Spielberg once said that Amrish Puri was his favourite villain and the best the world has seen.
This was a fine tribute from a great moviemaker to an actor who made his film debut aged 40. Before that, Puri has done well on stage and found recognition there.
His Mogambo in Shekhar Kapur’s Mr India is firmly etched on the minds of filmgoers. He was popular internationally too, acting with some big time directors. As age and illness caught up with him, Puri opted for a variety of character roles where his considerable skills were visible.
Here are five movies where Amrish Puri is at his characteristic best:
Mr India (1987)
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Sri Devi, Amrish Puri, Annu Kapoor, Satish Kaushik
Director: Shekhar Kapur
An orphaned violinist Annu Verma (Anil Kapoor) walks the streets and buys an old house which he can ill-afford. He stays there with a few orphans before he is forced take a tenant Seema (Sridevi) to make ends meet.
His ordinary life is brightened up when he finds a secret device which can make him invisible, a watch belonging to his father. He is now pursued by the villain Mogambo (Puri) who resorts to all sorts of tricks to gain the watch.
He also wants to control India but Annu, now calling himself Mr India, foils many plots, including kidnapping and torture. Mogambo has become a cult figure In Indian cinema with his famous lines, “ Mogambo Khush Hua”.
Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayege (1995)
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Amrish Puri, Farida Jalal, Anupam Kher, Satish Shah
Director: Aditya Chopra
Raj Malhotra (Shah Rukh) and Simran (Kajol), who both reside in England, meet each other when on a tour of Europe. Love blossoms once they find themselves separated from the others.
However, Simran’s father Baldev Singh (Puri) is not so fond of Raj after an unsavoury incident. And he has already promised his friend Ajit (Satish Shah) that Simran will marry his son.
When the family returns to India, marriage preparations begin. Raj tries his best to win Simran but the stubborn Baldev does not relent. The climax at a railway station proves that love conquers all. The film is one of the biggest hits in Indian cinema and the story and songs still touches the hearts of many filmgoers.
Cast: Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff, Naseeruddin Shah, Madhuri Dixit, Amrish Puri, Sonam, Sangeeta Bijlani
Director: Rajiv Rai
In this arms, drugs and kidnapping drama, three protagonists and their girlfriends take on a dangerous crime boss Bhujan (Puri). Inspector Karan (Sunny Deol) initially makes some arrests but immense political pressure on the police negates his efforts.
He is framed by Bhujang and later is transferred to a village. Karan is engaged to Divya (Dixit) whose brother Ravi (Shroff) is a streetfighter. In the village, Karan meets a social crusader Jai Singh (Shah) and they become friends.
Bhujang finally resorts to kidnapping and Karan, Jai and Ravi join hands to defeat the enemy.
Cast: Revathi, Jay Mehta, Amrish Puri, Annu Kapoor, Anil Dhavan, Sharat Saxena
Retired Supreme Court judge Gopichand Verma (Puri) is close to Pritam (Mehta), son of a close friend of his. Pritam, who works as a guide, comes across a girl Nandini (Revathi) who apparently seems off her rocker.
Nandini takes Pritam on a wild ride before she reveals herself as sane and looking for her father. She suspects that Verma is her father.
She worms her way into the house and shakes up the carefully laid set-up of the place. Then the truth is revealed. Puri is magnificent in this underrated film which has wonderful humour.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Cast: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Amrish Puri, Roshan Seth, Philip Stone
Director: Steven Spielberg
Indiana Jones (Ford) flees from China on an airplane but crash-lands in the Himalayas along with his sidekick Short Round and a night club singer Willie (Capshaw).
They eventually reach an Indian village where they get mixed up with a cult which practises black magic, child slavery and human sacrifice. They are urged by the royalty of the village to find three precious and famous stones and rescue the children.
They find their way to a secret temple and cross swords with high priest Mola Ram (Puri) in their quest for the stones and the children. This is the second film in the Indiana Jones series.