A major Bollywood star passed away recently and his legacy ought to live on beyond the universe of Indian cinema alone.
Om Puri, India’s first crossover actor, maintains a legacy that dates back to the 70s with breakthrough films from the 80s. Though he maintains countless hit roles and is an icon in South Asia, he contributed some of the best he had to offer to western cinema too.
In an age where news travels fast and far, it is no surprise that we hear about the passing of iconic celebrities repeatedly. The increase in news accessibility makes it seem as if the world has been losing more stars, and maybe that is the case. In either case, the acknowledgement of all celebrities that have given a piece of themselves to contribute to global pop culture is important.
Which is why I wonder why there was not more coverage on Om Puri from Western outlets.
Like many digital writers, I understand how vital it is to cover stories on popular topics. That is all the more reason to add international stars to the list of artists we ought to remember. If a topic is not locally popular yet, it’s still a big deal to another audience.
I could give you a long amazing list of Om Puri’s Bollywood accomplishments, but for now I’ll remind you of his Western contributions. Many of his western films were hybrid projects, depicting the lives of immigrants, and the relationships between Westerners and South Asians. His “East is East” series was a hit, along with “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” and, of course, “The One-Hundred Foot Journey.” Furthermore, he offered his talents to “Ghandi,” “The Jungle Book,” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.”
Puri set the stage as a cross-over actor long before stars such as Quantico actress, Priyanka Chopra, made their appearances. By far, the entrance of Bollywood actors onto the western and Hollywood stages has fared well.
Furthermore, Puri crossed into the Pakistani film industry, a diplomatic move from an Indian actor. One of his latest works reflects his wide-spread wings: “Actor in Law.” Puri even had a voice in the recent film industry boycotts that reflected a strain on Pakistani-Indian relations. Pakistan recently lifted a ban on the airing of Indian films, and recent attacks in Kashmir have introduced tensions towards Pakistani actors in the Bollywood industry. Puri’s comments, which were against the ban on Pakistani actors, put him in a controversial spotlight. However, much of the controversy must have came from commentary he made that could come across unpatriotic for Indians. Furthermore, the mystery surrounding his cause of death remains cloudy.
Foreign influences in film industries bring innovative and refreshing characteristics. Yet, there is little credit given to cross-over actors.
At the end of the day, the lack of coverage I see on Puri’s passing makes me wonder why news outlets shy away from stepping outside the box to report on subjects like cross-over stars. Because of the talent that I have seen other industries contribute to Hollywood, I wonder if I will see more comprehensive coverage in the future.