MUMBAI: Arty and impoverished no more.Om Puri, the grand-master of offbeat cinema has decided he will no longer be taken for granted by producers in money matters.
Exasperated and annoyed for being paid peanuts for over four decades now, Om Puri has finally taken charge of his finances. He won’t be taken for granted anymore by producers who claim to be too impoverished to pay him well. He has asked and got a percentage of the profits of his new international hit West Is West, which opened in the last week of February in England.
Luckily for Om West Is West has proved to be a profitable venture in England.
The veteran actors tells Businessofcinema.com enthusiastically, “They released it with 200 prints in the UK. It has already made 4 million pounds. In fact they’re now going for a wide American release, though the film is very British in flavour. My producer Leslee Udwin is very happy. She called and said to me in Hindi, ‘Main saatwa aasman mein hoon.’ I told her, ‘Main bhi’. It feels good to be part of a profitable venture after having been told by producers back home for 40 years that your films have made no money.”
Om admits he had asked for a percentage of the profits. “Yes, I’m getting 1 percent of the profits of West Is West. So going by the fabulous response I’ll make a neat amount of money. I’m happy. I need to secure my son Ishaan’s future. So far my producers have not allowed me to feel good financially.”
Om says back home Farhan Akhtar and Karan Johar have exceptionally been generous. “Among Indian producers, these two have been outstanding in their generosity. During the shooting of Don 2 in Berlin, everyone from the principal actors to the spot-boys stayed in the same hotel in Berlin. This sort of a uniform treatment instills a spirit of kinship in the unit. Likewise Karan Johar with whom I did Kurbaan and now Agneepath, did not hesitate in making sure I was well-treated. Such producers are rare in our industry.”
Om has just had another no-profit release Life Goes On – an adaptation of King Lear – where he plays the protagonist’s best friend.
“You will have to ask the director Sangeeta Dutta why she didn’t cast me as the modern-day Lear and only his best friend. Actually, I’ve been part of another British film titled Second Generation where I played Lear. I got a lot of acclaim for that. So it’s not as if I am a stranger to Shakespeare or Lear. Anyway, I enjoyed doing Life Goes On. I’ve known the director from the time she was assisting Basu Bhattacharya during Astha.”