Nihal Chand

Amrish Puri

Amrish Lal Puri (Hindi: अमरीश पुरी, Urdu: اَمریش پُری, June 22, 1932January 12, 2005) was an Indian actor who appeared primarily in Hindi movies. His most remembered roles are Mogambo in Mr India (1987) and Mola Ram in the Hollywood film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).

Personal life

Puri was born in Distt. Nawanshehar near by Jalandhar in the Punjab region of India. His parents were (father) Lala Nihal Chand and (mother) Ved Kaur. He had three siblings, brothers Chaman Puri and Om Puri (both of whom also became actors), elder sister Chandrakanta. He graduated from B.M. College in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. Amrish came to Bombay with not even a hundred rupees in his pocket and made it big through his sheer hard work, perseverance, and disciplined lifestyle.

He married Urmila Divekar on the 5th of January, 1957, at the Shri Krishna Temple in Wadala. The couple had two children, son Rajeev Puri, and daughter Namrata Puri. His son Rajeev is a businessman. He has four grandchildren: Sachi, Harsh Vardhan, Shantanu Bagwe and Krish Bagwe. Sachi is a 19 year old aspiring doctor whereas Harsh is a student in Jamnabai Narsee School(Juhu, Mumbai)and a very enthusiastic young man, to whom Amrish was very close. His daughter-in-law, Meena, is a professional physiotherapist. She practices at her Juhu clinic.

Amrish had a passion for collecting hats, and bought a hat or two on every abroad trip of his. He had a collection of over 200 hats from across the world. Amrish was a very religious person by heart and a Shiv devotee.


When Amrish reached Bombay his brother Madan Puri was already an established actor, known for playing villain roles. Amrish failed his first screen test and had to find a job with LIC.

Meanwhile he started performing at the Prithvi Theatre, in plays written by Satyadev Dubey, eventually became well-known as stage actor and won the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1979. This theatre recognition soon led to work in television ads and eventually to films at the age of 40.

Amrish Puri went on to work in Hindi, Kannada, Hollywood, Punjabi, Telugu and Tamil films. Though he was successful in all of these industries, he is best known for his work in Bollywood cinema. He has appeared in over four hundred movies. His dominating screen presence and booming voice made him stand out amongst a sea of actors.

He played character roles and was well-known as a villain. His striking bass voice, the ability to extend his eyes widely out of their eyelids during climactic scenes and outsize acting style made him a convincing villain in even the most melodramatic movies.

He died in Mumbai in 2005, after a brain hemorrhage at the age of 72. His autobiography titled, 'The Act of Life' was published in 2006, and is seen as the document of the cinema of his times.



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 villain 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.

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 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.


He is known to international audiences for his roles as Khan in Richard Attenborough's Gandhi (1982) and as the main antagonist Mola Ram in the Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).


Amrish Puri starred as the sadistic jailor in Kalapani in which co-acted Padmashri Mohanlal, the Megastar of Malayalam industry.


Amrish Puri is best known in Punjabi cinema for his role as the landlord villain Joginder Singh in the legendary film Chan Pardesi (1980). He also starred as the villain Zalam Singh in the religious Punjabi film Sat Sri Akal (1977). After twenty years, he returned to Punjabi cinema to make a brief appearance as the Sufi Saint in the acclaimed film Shaheed Uddham Singh (2000).


He also appeared in Telugu movies such as Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari, Major Chandrakanth, Aditya-369, Kondaveeti Donga, Aswamedham, Aakhari Poratam etc.


Amris Puri appeared in the Tamil film Dalapathi (1991), directed by Mani Ratnam, opposite South Indian superstars Rajnikanth and Mammootty. After Dalapathi, Amrish Puri made his second and last appearance in the Rajinkanth's film "Baba" (2002) in which Amrish Puri played the role of an evil tantrik who helps politicians and other evil elements to succeed in their hideous schemes.


He has acted in some Kannada movies during his early days of the career. He acted as a hero in a black & white kannada movie "Kaadu"



Amrish Puri acted in more than 400 films between 1967 - 2005. Some of them are listed below.







Further reading

  • The Act of Life - An Autobiography by Amrish Puri with Jyoti Sabharwal.


External links

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