My wife has stripped me bare: Om Puri

>> Sunday, November 29, 2009

Om Puri

Veteran Hindi and international film actor Om Puri has stoutly defended wife Nandita Puri s book on his life and times, asserting that the controversy over it wasn t a stage-managed publicity stunt.At a function organised to release his biography, An Unlikely Hero: Om Puri, at the 40th International Film Festival of India on Wednesday, the globally known thespian said: It isn t easy for a woman to write a book on her husband. But Nandita has done a fantastic job, with detachment, objectivity and honesty. She has sized me up perfectly, both personally and professionally. Puri continued: Not only has she highlighted my early life and growth as a man, she has also thrown light on my personal life, affairs and weaknesses with the professionalism of a seasoned journalist who has two decades of experience.

The biography, published by Roli Books, has been in the news for allegedly causing a rift between husband and wife.Puri, who is the current chairman of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), had been quoted by certain sections of the press as saying that he wouldn t let his wife get away with it . Speaking here, the actor pilloried the media, both print and electronic, for blowing the controversy over the book out of proportion. They gave the impression that this biography is a scurrilous, sensational piece of writing. Believe me, it is anything but that. The focus on my personal life is only a small part of the book, he said.With this book, my wife has stripped me bare and I enjoyed being stripped by her, Puri said, his tongue firmly in cheek. The controversy was a result of a misunderstanding. I assure you that it wasn t a publicity stunt that my wife and I decided to orchestrate in order to sell the book.

Nandita Puri, on her part, asserted that she approached the task of writing her husband s biography with as much detachment and empathy as she could muster. Striking a balance was important. That is the only way I could have done justice to the book, which covers every aspect of the 60 years of his life, she said, speaking at the book release function.Om Puri pointed out that Nandita was no greenhorn as a writer and knew exactly what she was doing. She has written two screenplays as well as an anthology of short stories. She is now working on a big historical novel, he said.The actor said that the story of his life was worth narrating. At the age of seven, I was a rag-picker. I would collect coal that steam engines would leave behind at the railway station. I would wait until the coal cooled down and then take it home to be used as fuel, he recalled.From there on, he added, he went on to school, college, drama school and the film institute, evolving as a human being all the way.

Nandita has captured all that with great skill and lucidity, he said. Puri paid a special tribute to his teachers and mentors who helped him become what he is today. If men like Govind Nihalani and Shyam Benegal hadn t made the films that they did, I wouldn t have been the actor I am, he said. (Saibal Chatterjee is a National Award-winning film critic who has covered film festivals around the world, including the ones in Cannes and Toronto. He will be writing exclusively for from IFFI 2009)


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