Actor Amrish Puri, 72, Dies

King of Bollywood baddies dies (Guardian)

Photo: Best-loved baddie... Amrish Puri in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Amrish Puri, the actor best known to western audiences as Indiana Jones’s nemesis in Temple of Doom, died today at a Mumbai (formerly Bombay) hospital after a long illness. He was 72.

Puri acted in more than 200 films and was one of the best loved baddies in Hindi cinema, frequently playing crime bosses or inflexible fathers preventing the heroine from marrying her true love. Born in 1932, his career took off when he was in his late thirties with Reshma aur Shera (Reshma and Shera), a love story set in the Rajasthan desert. He was most famous for playing gang leader Mogambo in the 1989 movie Mr India. Puri also featured in Hollywood films: he was in Gandhi but is probably best remembered as Mola Ram, the shaven-headed murderous cult leader in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. He kept the minimalist hairstyle thereafter.

Treated for malaria a couple of months back, Puri had been unwell for some time. He was admitted in hospital last month after he suffered a fall. He slipped into a coma and died today.

Bollywood actor Amrish Puri dies (CBC News)

Amrish Puri, the veteran Bollywood actor best known to western audiences for his role as the villainous cult leader in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, died of a brain hemorrhage Wednesday morning at a hospital in Mumbai. He was 72. Born in 1932, Puri was a theatre and radio actor before beginning his movie career in his late 30s with the love story Reshma aur Shera (Reshma and Shera).

In the more than 200 Bollywood movies he filmed, Puri developed a reputation for elevating evil and over-the-top villains — like his famed turn as gang leader Mogambo in 1989’s Mr. India — into sophisticated characters that audiences loved to hate.

Though he had a small role in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi, Puri is most likely remembered by western audiences for playing Mola Ram, the murderous leader of an ancient cult in Steven Spielberg’s second installment of the Indiana Jones series. Some criticized the portrayal as stereotypical and negative, and though he received many offers for international films afterwards, Puri decided to concentrate on Hindi cinema. He did, however, continue to wear a bald pate for years.

Mola Ram was a very distinctive character. I don’t recall his role in Gandhi, although I haven’t seen that movie in years. Bollywood, by the way, is India’s answer to Hollywood.

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James Joyner
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  1. Cybrludite says:

    You know the times, they are a-changing when a mainstream news article uses the word Bollywood without stopping to explane what it means. I mean it’s one thing if it’s a publication meant just for film geeks…

  2. Priya Kaur says:

    My name is Priya and i’m in the u.s now. I’m really sad right now. This actor was the best actor and a really nice human being. Me and my family use to watch his movies together.He will never be forgotten.