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OM Puri -A Magnificent Actor of East/West Dies at 66

January 6th, 2017
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    Guardian Obit here.

    Om Puri

    Om Prakesh Puri OBE (18 October 1950 – 6 January 2017) was an Indian actor who appeared in mainstream commercial Indian, British, and American films, as well as independent films and art films.

    Is Om Puri our greatest living actor? on
    April, 2000 Michael Spagow asked – h/t Terrence Rafferty via FB.

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    Lasse Hallstrom directing Om Puri –

    Om Puri knelt before Helen Mirren -

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    MYSTIC MASSEUR, Ayesha Dharker, Om Puri, 2001(c) Think Film. . Merchant Ivory production..
    story by V.S. Naipal.

  • The Intense Serenity of Om Puri, Citizen of the World
    By TERRENCE RAFFERTY APRIL 9, 2000 (NYtimes)

    ALTHOUGH Om Puri has appeared, by his own estimate, in something like 140 films in his 24-year screen career and has been characterized by one expert on Indian cinema as ”the finest actor of the post-independence generation,” he does not expect to be recognized on the streets of New York.

    But when he and I step out for a cigarette in front of the SoHo Grand Hotel, a middle-aged man and woman strolling up West Broadway look startled, walk a few steps farther up the street, and then, after a fast conference, return to tell Mr. Puri how impressed they had been by his performance in ”East Is East,” which they had seen in Israel. He accepts their praise graciously and modestly, and after they have moved on he puffs contentedly and beams. ”That’s absolutely made my day.”

    His delight is so contagious that I instantly banish my suspicion that this improbable encounter has been staged by the wily publicists of Miramax, which is releasing ”East Is East” here on Friday. To be recognized, on a nearly deserted street, for a performance in a British art-house picture that has not even opened in the States? Not bloody likely. And yet: Mr. Puri’s portrayal of George Khan — a Pakistani Muslim married to an Englishwoman (Linda Bassett) and trying to raise seven children in a racially mixed neighborhood near Manchester in the 1970’s — is unforgettable, the sort of performance that should stop traffic. (Light pedestrian traffic, at least.) So I want this scene to be real: It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, or a better actor.

    Back in the hotel’s smoke-free lounge, Mr. Puri, clearly stimulated by the heady combination of recognition and nicotine, expands on his approach to the domestic tyrant George Khan, who could easily have been played as a monster. ”I look for subtext,” he says, ”the hidden script within the script. Here’s a working-class man who comes to England and finds himself in circumstances that are too huge for him to handle. It’s 1971. In Parliament there are people shouting about repatriation. This man who is so rigid on the surface has agreed to stay with his wife in a non-Muslim area and send his children to modern schools. Even his daughter, and for a Muslim it’s very tough to send a girl child to a modern school. I knew I had to find a space for this in my portrayal, without departing from the script or changing the scenes. So when he hits a child it should be with pain. The anguish on his face should give a little balance to his monstrousness.”

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    My Son the Fanatic (script by Hanif Kureishi)
    Hanif and Omu Puri
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    Photo via

    (via Interview of Om Puri by Terrence Rafferty.)

    In ”My Son the Fanatic,” written by Hanif Kureishi (”My Beautiful Laundrette”), Mr. Puri plays another working-class immigrant father, who is also a Muslim by birth and who also lives in the industrial north, but whose parenting difficulties are precisely the opposite of Khan’s: Parvez, an easygoing cabdriver who loves jazz, drinks a little too much and has for a best friend and confidante a young prostitute, is alarmed that his son has become a militant Islamic fundamentalist.

    The actor considers Parvez the richest role that he has had in the English-speaking cinema. And besides, he says, ”I can more easily identify with that character. I consider him to be a citizen of the world. You could send him to Italy, you could send him to Spain, you could send him to Japan and the man would adjust. There is no place where there is not a collage of people, so there are frictions everywhere. Unless people have a sense of tolerance towards each other’s beliefs, life is not going to be easy.”

    Mr. Puri describes himself as ”very, very liberal,” which is perhaps why most of his work in his native land has been in ”what we call the art cinema, where the assumption is that cinema or theater is a medium of social commitment,” he says. As he sees it, ”My whole training has set me up for that.”

    Born in a rural area of northern India in 1950, Mr. Puri worked his way through a Punjabi university where he joined a theater group and ”drifted” from his youthful ambition to be a military man like his father. The family did not object. ”My father could see that I was economically responsible and really hard-working, so he never questioned my activities. And I never embarrassed him.” He then spent three years at the National School of Drama in New Delhi, where he received what he describes, with some understatement, as a ”very well-rounded” education in the theater: he played Hamlet in Hindi at age 23 and also performed (in that language) Brecht, Shaw, Ibsen, Indian folk plays and even a Kabuki drama.

    After a couple of years at the Indian Film Institute in Poona, Mr. Puri lit out for the film-industry capital, Bombay. He anticipated having a hard time breaking into the movies, because he did not have ”an obvious personality” — which means, in part, that he was not handsome enough to attract immediate attention. But his theater work got him noticed and once he had begun making movies his versatility kept him in demand. By 1981, he was well known enough to get a call from India’s greatest director, Satyajit Ray, who was casting ”Sadgati” (”Deliverance”), which was to be the Bengali filmmaker’s first production in Hindi; Mr. Puri was his choice to play the lead, an untouchable.

    In a way, the actor says, his career in the West is repeating the pattern of his career in India. He has had small parts in the major studio films ”Gandhi (1982), ”Wolf” (1994) and ”The Ghost and the Darkness” (1996), as well as a substantial supporting role in ”City of Joy” (1992). But his meatiest parts have been in serious, low-budget pictures. That’s fine with him, because he has a good life and a thriving career in Bombay, where he can practice his art in accordance with his bedrock principle: never let yourself be typecast. (His hero is Alec Guinness). ”Om has unusual range for an actor,” Mr. Prasad says. ”He seems equally natural playing an illiterate villager or a powerful intellectual.’

    And equally content. Like Parvez — and unlike George Khan — the man adjusts. ”I am happy to be recognized here in New York,” Mr. Puri says near the end of our conversation. ”But it was only two people, and I will not work just so that next time it will be 10 people.” And then he says something that, coming from an actor, strikes me as astonishing, and that may at least partly account for the extraordinary mixture of intensity and serenity that informs an Om Puri performance. ”I, frankly, don’t dream, because I want to remain happy. When you dream too much and the dream doesn’t come true, you hurt yourself. And I don’t want to hurt myself. So I don’t dream. I take things as they are.”

    Saeed Jaffrey – Bollywood, British Screen Legend Dies

    November 16th, 2015
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    Shatranj Ke Khiladi (The Chess Players) directed by Satyajit Ray

    Saeed Jaffrey – Bollywood, British Screen Legend Dies

    In a career that spanned more than half a century, Jaffrey made almost 200 screen appearances, working with directors including John Huston, James Ivory, David Lean, Richard Attenborough and Stephen Frears.
    Your next box set: The Jewel in the Crown

    Your next box set: Poignant and understated, The Jewel in the Crown’s account of the decline of the British Raj is one of the high-water marks of 1980s British TV, writes Alexandra Coghlan
    Read more

    He was probably best known to Western cinema audiences for his roles in Gandhi, The Man Who Would Be King, A Passage to India and My Beautiful Launderette, but he had a long and distinguished Bollywood career, notably in Raj Kapoor’s Ram Teri Ganga Maili and Indra Kumar’s Dil. He also starred in Satyajit Ray’s The Chess Players.

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    The Man Who Would be King (John Huston)

    via

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    My Beautiful Launderette – (written by Hanif Kureishi, directed by Stephen Frears)

    Saeed Jaffrey was the first Indian to receive the Order of the British Empire or OBE.

    He was married to actress-author Madhur Jaffrey, with whom he had three children.

    Obit from Caravan daily ..

    The World of Satyajit Ray – Mini Retrospective- May 2, 2015

    May 2nd, 2015
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    Charulata (youtube)

  • 20 films directed by Satyajit Ray – see photos slideshow here.

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    Aparajito

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    Childhood days

  • Ray of hope – two documentaries Previous post

    Encounter with Jean Renoir

    Of all the films of Renoir, Ray admired La Regle du Jeu the most, a personal favorite of Renoir himself. Regarding filmmaking Renoir said that a filmmaker need not show a lot of things in a film but to show only the right things. Ray diligently followed the same advice that Renoir offered him in 1952: “You don’t have to have too many elements in a film, but whatever you use must be the right elements, the expressive elements.” From Renoir, Ray learnt that there was nothing more important to a film than the emotional integrity of human relationship in the film.

    Western Influences on Satyajit Ray

  • Malala – Calls for Free Education at UN

    July 12th, 2013

    Malala Yousafzai

    Happy birthday Malala! She is 16 years old today.

    Malala Yousafzai calls on governments to provide free education for all

    Pakistani schoolgirl who survived Taliban assassination attempt speaks at UN headquarters on day named in her honour

    Malala receives the Simone de Beauvoir – Prize for Women’s Freedom

    There will be a film about her life.. (Guardian)

  • Malala Yousafzai tells Obama drones are ‘fueling terrorism’

    Ray of Hope, Two Documenatries – Satyajit Ray and RabindranathTagore

    June 5th, 2013
  • Pather Panchali - Full film (youtube)

  • The Art of Film: Satyajit Ray, a viewpoint (youtube) (Highly recommended)

  • Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore was recently honored by the U.N.

    Click to see large (image via Old photos of India)


    Einstein and Tagore

    The film comprises dramatized episodes from the poet’s life and archived images and documents. (See full film directed by Satyajit Ray here)

    The documentary was made to celebrate Tagore’s birth centenary in May 1961. Ray was conscious that he was making an official portrait of India’s celebrated poet and hence the film does not include any controversial aspects of Tagore’s life. However, it is far from being a propaganda film.

  • Satyajit Ray (NYtimes)

    “I find I am inimical to the idea of making two similar films in succession,” wrote the great Indian director Satyajit Ray in 1966, and in this, as in everything he wrote or filmed, he spoke the truth.

  • Satyajit Ray: Introspections (1983) Part 1

  • The World of Ravi Shankar – 12/12/12

    December 12th, 2012
  • The Song of the little road

    See Pather Panchali 1955 (Song of the Little Road) Bangla Movie Full- starting with Ravi Shankar soundtrack

  • Ravi Shanker passed away in San Diego.

    Nytimes obit here.

    Philip Glass had two teachers one was Nadia Boulanger and another Ravi Shankar.

  • Chappaqua

  • Yehudi Menuhin with Ravi Shankar

  • Ravi Shankar on Dick Cavett

    See Drawings of Francesco Clemente – Ravi’s soundtrack

    Film “Charley” composed by Ravi Shankar..

    Ravi Shankar and George We are missing you (youtube)

    Ali Akbar Khan (Ravi’s brother in law and a musical partner – previous post)

    Indian Bazaar

    July 16th, 2012

  • Radha Giving Butter-Milk to Krishna, illustration to Bihari’s Sat Saiya, Basohli, c. 1690

    See more Basoli paintings

    Shahzia Sikander Indian Miniture

    Avatar of Vishnu
    Buddha as the 9th Avatar of Vishnu

    F. Clementi

    The words English owes to India

    A – atoll, avatar
    B – bandana, bangle, bazaar, Blighty, bungalow
    C – cashmere, catamaran, char, cheroot, cheetah, chintz, chit, chokey, chutney, cot, cummerbund, curry
    D – dinghy, doolally, dungarees
    G – guru, gymkhana
    H – hullabaloo
    J – jodhpur, jungle, juggernaut, jute
    K – khaki, kedgeree
    L – loot
    N – nirvana
    P – pariah, pashmina, polo, pukka, pundit, purdah, pyjamas
    S – sari, shampoo, shawl, swastika
    T – teak, thug, toddy, typhoon
    V – veranda
    Y – yoga

    The Original Pundits

    These early 007′s were primarily gatherers of information for mapmakers, though each received a secret code name like NA, RN, PA, GK, GM, GNM, etc. They were given the honorary designation of Pundit, meaning scholarly or wise and were the model for Rudyard Kipling’s Kim.

    Ravi Shankar and George We are missing you (youtube)

    Ali Akbar Khan

    Radha’s dance (Film within the film, the dance from The River directed by Jean Renoir)

    Ali Akbar Khan R.I.P

    June 20th, 2009

    Gardens of Dreams aak_garden_fr1
    Khan was born in what is today Bangladesh in 1922 and held his first performance in the United States in 1955. He opened a music school in Berkeley in 1967, later moving it to San Rafael.

    NYtimes obit

    Ali Akbar Khan, the foremost virtuoso of the lutelike sarod, whose dazzling technique and gift for melodic invention, often on display in concert with his brother-in-law Ravi Shankar, helped popularize North Indian classical music in the West, died on Thursday at his home in San Anselmo, Calif. He was 87.

    Ali Akbar Khan with Ravi Shankar
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    Sarod Maetro Ali Akbar Akbar Khan Dies (World music central org)

    Learning the ragas and mastering the instrument were both difficult challenges. Ali Akbar sais, “If you practice for 10 years, you may please yourself, after 20 years you may become a performer and please the audience, after 30 years you may please even your guru, but you must practice for many more years before you finally become a true artist-then you may please even God.”

    His film scores, including Chetan Anand’s Aandhiyan, Satyajit Ray’s Devi, Merchant-Ivory’s The Householder, and Tapan Sinha’s Kshudista Pashan (“Hungry stones”), for which he won the “Best Musician of the Year” award. Later in 1993, he would score some of the music for Bernardo Bertolucci Little Buddha.[9]

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    The River – Jean Renoir

    August 22nd, 2006

    Rhada Radha Dance from the River by Jean Renoir dance sequence from Jean’s Renoir “Le Fleuve” or the River.

    This dance scene is part of story within a story. Radha plays a mixed race character called Melanie in this coming of age film.

    The review of “The River by Beth Gilligan

    Interestingly, Melanie’s character does not appear in the Godden novel, but was added by Renoir, who wanted a non-colonialist voice to be heard in his film

    Who is Radha?