How Did Amrish Puri, An Insurance Agent, Came To Movies?

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“Amrish used to work as a life insurance agent. He used to go around on his motorbike all over the place. But his passion was theatre. I mean, absolute passion. I met him mainly because he used to work with Satyadev Dubey’s theatre group called Theatre Unit” Shyam Benegal.

It was started by Ebrahim Alkazi when he was in Bombay before he went to Delhi. He was one of Dubey’s great actors. He had two older brothers who were actors in films. One of them was successful. He played the villain in films from the 1940s to the 1970s. But Amrish himself had no real interest in cinema.

In 1970 he appeared in his first film, [Prem Pujari] although the first film he had signed for was [Reshma Aur Sheraaa] which released in 1971. This was followed by many villains or supporting roles in numerous art films such as Shyam Benegal’s Nishant, Manthan, and Bhumika and Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda. He also appeared in Govind Nihalani’s film, Party in 1984.

He attracted a great deal of attention for his work in the 1987 hit film Mr. India, directed by Shekhar Kapur. He played the evil Mogambo, who encouraged his underlings with the phrase, Mogambo Khush Hua (Mogambo is pleased). The phrase became very popular and remains one of his most famous dialogues.

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He became a staple of Hindi films in the 1980s playing mostly villainous roles. He also went on to play many positive supporting roles, including his famous role as Baldev Singh in the Indian blockbuster Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995).

While he is best known for his work as a villain, he has also played the “good guy” at times. He acted as Group Captain Varghese, a Malayali officer in the Indian Air Force based movie Vijeta. He was a kind-hearted American businessman in Pardes (1997) and a genial grandfather in the film Chori Chori Chupke Chupke (2001). His last film was Kachchi Sadak. The film was released a few days after his death.

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