Veteran actor Amrish Puri who is remembered for iconic negative roles in films that were at par with the main lead was born today on June 22, 1932. Puri was an important figure in Indian theatre and Hindi cinema. There was a time when almost all the big banner films released had Puri playing the negative role. He is probably the most remembered iconic villain in Indian cinema and still holds considerable hold in the audience’s psyche. He also worked in Hollywood film and appeared as Mola Ram in Steven Spielberg’s film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom opposite Harrison Ford. It is surprising to note that the acclaimed actor started working in films at a relatively old age of 40.
Puri plays a very successful and famous criminal lawyer in this courtroom drama that has Anil Kapoor as the main protagonist. The film is popular for its intense courtroom scenes and debates between Kapoor and Puri. Puri won his first Filmfare Award for Best Villain for this film.
2. Baba Bhaironath – Nagina
Puri plays a snake charmer-cum-tantric-priest in this supernatural drama that had the late Sridevi playing the role of an Icchadhari Nagin (shape-shifter). His dialogue ‘Alakh Niranjan’ became equally famous as Sridevi’s iconic dance routine in Main Teri Dushman, dushman to mera.
3. Mogambo – Mr. India
This is probably the most popular role of Puri. Although he was not nominated for any awards but his portrayal of the ambitious villain who wants to dominate the world earned him audience’s acclaim and love. ‘Mogambo Khush Hua’ was the iconic dialogue that Puri made famous through the film. He once again shared screen space with Anil Kapoor and Sridevi in this Shekhar Kapur’s popular film.
4. Bhisambar Nath – Ram Lakhan
The popular film directed by Subhash Ghai saw Puri playing the role of the hated zamindar Bhishamber Nath who usurps the properties of Dalip Tahil who plays the father of Jackie Shroff and Anil Kapoor. Puri plays a malicious character that tricks Dalip Tahil’s father into signing a will in his favour and then drives the rightful owner out. Anil and Jackie eventually take revenge on him once they grow up.
5. Chuniya – Saudagar
Puri was nominated for his role in the film for Best Villain (Filmfare). The film had iconic actors Raaj Kumar and Dilip Kumar as the main protagonist. The film had an ensemble cast and hence, Amrish got a relatively less screen time compared to his other film roles. However, Puri still maintained his screen presence and earned accolades for his performance.
6. Gopichand Verma – Muskurahat
Puri projected a different character in this film. He deviated from his usual villainous roles and was seen as a positive character even though he did show some grey traits. For his performance, he was nominated for Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award. The film was a remake of the hit Malayalam film Kilukkam starring Mohanlal and Revathi. Puri starred alongside Jay Mehta, Revathi, Anil Dhawan, Sharat Saxena, Annu Kapoor and Jagdeep.
7. Barrister Indrajit Chaddha - Damini
Damini was probably one of Puri’s most iconic film roles. He once again played a lawyer Barrister Indrajit Chaddha and had quite a few riveting courtroom scenes opposite Sunny Deol who played the perfect foil to his scheming lawyer act. He received another nomination for Filmfare Best Villain Award.
8. Chaudhary Baldev Singh – Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
Probably one of the most famous film roles of Puri, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge saw him play Kajol’s strict father against the antics of Shah Rukh Khan. His dialogue ‘Ja Simran Ja, Jee Le Apni Zindagi’ became the lore of popular culture and today even after 23 years after its release still holds audience’s fancy. He earned another Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role.