Prolific Indian actor Om Puri, who for decades appeared in films all over the world, has died at age 66 in Mumbai.
Reports say Puri suffered a heart attack at his home early on Friday.
Puri had roles in more than 300 movies in his career, NPR’s Rose Friedman reports for our Newscast unit. Rose says he began acting in Indian art house cinema in the 1970s and soon branched into British and American films, including Gandhi in 1982 and Charlie Wilson’s War in 2007. He appeared in the 2013 film The Reluctant Fundamentalist, in which he played a father struggling to pass on a sense of empathy to his Wall Street-employed son.
Most recently, he starred alongside Helen Mirren in The Hundred-Foot Journey, a 2015 film about a displaced Indian family that settles in a French village and opens a restaurant.
Puri was a crossover star, as evidenced by the breadth of people mourning his death. The BBC reported that even media in Pakistan, with whom India’s relationship is often tense, are celebrating his life and career. The BBC wrote, “[Puri] had recently spoken out against the ban imposed by India on Pakistani actors working in Bollywood films, following tensions over Kashmir,” telling an Indian TV channel, “Pakistani artists are not terrorists.”
In 2004, Puri received an honorary Order of the British Empire, an award established by King George V and given to individuals who have made distinguished contributions in their field. In 1990, he was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian honors, the Guardian wrote.
Puri’s professional life was wildly successful, but his personal life had been turbulent in recent years. He separated from his wife, Nandita, after she wrote his biography in 2009, called Unlikely Hero: Om Puri. The book revealed explicit details about his sexual forays as a young man.
Puri is survived by Nandita, whom he married in 1993, and their son.
Less than a month before his death, Puri took to Twitter to reflect on his life and career: