'It's becoming harder to select Hindi films'
Om Puri is looking forward to tackling King Lear in a British film
Subhash K Jha
It's a dream role for any actor. William Shakespeare's tragic hero King Lear is now being adapted for a British production featuring our own exemplary actor Om Puri..
Confirming the news on one of his visits home after another international project, Puri said, "It is a modern adaptation of King Lear. I play a business tycoon with three daughters. Parminder Nagra, the lead actress from Bend It Like Beckham is both my wife and my youngest daughter. Anupam Kher also stars in this film. They have been asking me to do it for two years, now it is time for me to get a grip on Lear. The film is going to be directed by John Sen, a Bengali settled in Great Britain. It is written by Neil Biswas. Neither director or writer has ever come to India."
Puri has just finished shooting two other films in Britain. "I recently concluded a series for BBC2 called Murder which starred Julie Walters. I didn't have a big role in it. But the director Bibon Kidron was so intense, she reminded me of Govind Nihalani. I have just completed the shooting for film for Channel 4 called White Teeth. It is based on a popular novel and was converted into a four-part miniseries of one hour each.
"It is the story of two friends, an Indian and Britisher together in the army during colonial rule in India and how they meet up in England after 30 years. The film is a collage of cultural conflicts. The director was a very bright gentle young man named Julian Gillard. It was a wonderful experience. We shot the film in seven weeks. After it was telecast every second person on the streets of London came forward to talk to me."
Back home in Bollywood, Puri seems to miss challenging opportunities as an actor. He is happy about his next release, director Anubhav Sinha's Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai, a comedy based on the Hollywood film Meet The Parents, where Puri plays the the central role of a possessive father who cannot bear to see his daughter getting involved with a man.
Puri is excited about a film with his old friend, director Govind Nihalani, who cast him in his first two major roles in Aakrosh and Ardha Satya. "Govind Nihalani is planning a film on the police force with Bachchan Saab(Amitabh Bachchan) and me. Govind is working on the script. He starts shooting in February."
Puri admits that he might be made to perform a supporting role vis-a-vis Bachchan. "But I don't mind. My attitude to roles is, 'You give me anything, and I'll try to do my best with it'."
Expressing regret about his role in David Dhawans latest flick Chor Machaaye Shor, Puri vows to stay away from crass Hindi films. "Indian projects are becoming harder and harder to select. It is because of the kind of films being made. Every second film is a young love story. What kind of role do I play in such films except the stereotypical father? Even if a few love stories depicting mature man-woman relationships were made, I would have had a chance of expressing myself as an actor in India.
"I must admit the British projects are paying well compared with what I get for Hindi commercial films. I can no longer use scarcity of funds as an excuse to do vulgar films in Hindi. I don't need to do films like Chor Machaaye Shor. I want the media to pull me up when I slip up. Right now I am looking forward to doing my Lear act in London. When I return, I go to Kolkata to do Sandip Ray's next Bengali film in the Inspector Feluda series, in which I play a villain."