Amrish Puri[1] (22 June 1932 – 12 January 2005)[2] was an Indian actor, who was one of the most notable and important figures in Indian cinema and theatre. He acted in more than 450 films, established himself as one of the most popular and iconic actors in Indian cinema.[3][4] Puri is remembered for playing various roles in variety of film genres, specially iconic villainous roles in Hindi cinema, as well as international cinema. He reigned supreme in villainous roles in the 1980s and 1990s, his dominating screen presence and distinctive deep voice made him stand out amongst the other villains of the day.[5] Puri was active in both art cinema such as in some of Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani's films as well as in mainstream cinema. Puri won three Filmfare Awards for Best Supporting Actor in eight nominations. He also holds most Filmfare Award for Best Villain nominations.

Amrish Puri
Puri at the premiere of The Hero: Love Story of a Spy in 2003
Born(1932-06-22)22 June 1932
Died12 January 2005(2005-01-12) (aged 72)
Years active1967–2005
Urmila Diveker
(m. 1957)
RelativesChaman Puri (brother)
Madan Puri (brother)
K. L. Saigal (cousin)
Vardhan Puri (grandson)
Amrish Puri's signature

While he predominantly worked in Hindi-language films, he had also appeared in Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Marathi language films. Puri played some of most remembered villainous roles in Vidhaata (1982), Shakti (1982), Hero (1983), Meri Jung (1985), Nagina (1986), Mr. India (1987), Shahenshah (1988), Ram Lakhan (1989), Tridev (1990), Ghayal (1990), Saudagar (1991), Thalapathi (1991), Tahalka (1992), Damini (1993), Karan Arjun (1995), Kaalapani (1996), Jeet (1996), Koyla (1997), Baadshah (1999), Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001), and Nayak: The Real Hero (2001). His notable Telugu films include Kondaveeti Donga (1988), Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari (1990), and Aditya 369 (1991). Puri's performance of the main antagonist Mogambo from Shekhar Kapur's Mr. India (1987) is considered as one of greatest villains of all time in Indian cinema.[6][7] It was reported that he received a salary of ₹1 crore (US$771,890), making him the highest-paid Indian villain actor of all time.[8] His comic role in Chachi 420, that he acted alongside Kamal Haasan was well received by critics.

Puri was a highly prolific actor; he also featured in positive supporting roles, of which he won 3 times Filmfare Awards for Best Supporting Actor. Some of his notable positive roles are Phool Aur Kaante (1991), Gardish (1993), Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995), Ghatak (1996), Diljale (1996) Pardes (1997), Virasat (1997), China Gate (1998), Badal (2000), Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai (2001), Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004) and Hulchul (2004). To Western audiences, he is best known as Mola Ram in the Steven Spielberg and George Lucas Hollywood film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and as Khan in Richard Attenborough's Gandhi (1982).

Early life

Amrish Lal Puri was born in a Punjabi Hindu family in Nawanshahr, Punjab, to Lala Nihal Chand and Ved Kaur.[1] He had four siblings, elder brothers Chaman Puri and Madan Puri (both of whom were also actors), elder sister Chandrakanta, and a younger brother, Harish Puri. He was the first cousin of the actor and singer K. L. Saigal.[9]


Puri acted in more than 450 films between 1967 and 2005, most of which were commercially successful, and was one of the most successful villains in Bollywood. Yet, his early years were marked by relentless struggle and he was nearly fifty years of age before he first played a leading character (as main villain) in a film.

Puri's family had some film connections. The singer and actor K. L. Saigal, one of the pioneers of Indian cinema, was Puri's first cousin. Enamoured by the fame of their cousin, Puri's older brothers, Chaman Puri and Madan Puri, had moved to Mumbai in the 1950s to try their luck in films and had found work as character actors.[10] Puri likewise came to Mumbai in the mid-1950s to try his luck, but failed his first screen test. He however managed to land a stable job with the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), a government organization, and indulged his hobby of acting by becoming part of an amateur natak mandali or stage group. His group often performed at the Prithvi Theatre in plays written by Satyadev Dubey. He eventually became well known as a stage actor and even won the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1979.[11] This theatre recognition soon led to work in television advertisements and eventually to films at the relatively late age of 40 (forty).

This was in the early 1970s, and he hardly had a dialogue to utter in his first few films, which is remarkable, because his baritone voice was to be his source of fame in later years. These bit appearances were still counted a hobby, since he continued with his government job in order to support his family. Throughout the 1970s, Puri worked in supporting roles, usually as the henchman of the main villain. The super-hit movie Hum Paanch (1980) was the first film in which he played the main villain. His acting performance, personality and voice were all noticed and duly appreciated in this film. After that, he started getting cast as the main villain in other movies. Puri went on to work in Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Punjabi, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil and even Hollywood films. His main field was, of course, Hindi cinema.

In 1982, Puri played the main villain, Jagavar Choudhary in the Subhash Ghai super-hit film Vidhaata. That year, he again played the main villain, JK in the movie Shakti co-starring Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. Next, in 1983, Ghai again cast him as the main villain, Pasha, in the hit movie Hero. Puri regularly featured in subsequent Ghai films.

He is known to international audiences for his roles as the main antagonist Mola Ram in Steven Spielberg and George Lucas's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and as Gandhi's Muslim employer and patron in South Africa in Richard Attenborough's Gandhi (1982). For Indiana Jones, he shaved his head and it created such an impression that he kept his head shaved thereafter. His baldness gave him the flexibility to experiment with different looks as a villain in subsequent movies, and few are aware that in every film thereafter, Puri was wearing a wig. Puri and Spielberg shared a great rapport and Spielberg often said in interviews: "Amrish is my favorite villain. The best the world has ever produced and ever will!"[12]

Puri reigned supreme in villainous roles in the 1980s and 1990s. His dominating screen presence and baritone voice made him stand out amongst the other villains of the day. In villainous roles, Puri is best remembered as "Mogambo" in Mr. India, "Jagavar" in Vidhaata, "Thakral" in Meri Jung, "Bhujang" in Tridev, "Balwant Rai" in Ghayal, Barrister Chadda in Damini and "Thakur Durjan Singh" in Karan Arjun. His comic role in Chachi 420, that he acted alongside Kamal Haasan was highly appreciated.

From the 1990s until his death in 2005, Puri also featured in positive supporting roles in many movies. Some of his notable positive roles are Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Phool Aur Kaante, Gardish, Pardes, Virasat, Ghatak, Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai, China Gate. He received the Filmfare Best Supporting Actor award for Meri Jung and Virasat.

Illness and death

Puri was suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare kind of blood cancer, and had undergone brain surgery for his condition after he was admitted to the Hinduja Hospital on 27 December 2004. His condition required frequent removal of the blood accumulated in the cerebral region of the brain and after some time he slipped into a coma. Puri died around 7:30 a.m on 12 January 2005.[13]

His body was brought to his residence for people to pay their last respects, and his funeral was on 13 January 2005 at Shivaji Park crematorium.[14]


Awards and nominations


  • 1968: Maharashtra State Drama
  • 1979: Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Theatre
  • 1986: Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor – Meri Jung
  • 1991: Maharashtra State Gaurav Pur Ghatak
  • 1997: Star Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor|Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor – Ghatak: Lethal
  • 1997: Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor – Ghatak: Lethal
  • 1998: Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor – Virasat
  • 1998: Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor – Virasat



On 22 June 2019, Puri was honoured with a Google Doodle. Commemorating his 87th birthday, Google carried his picture and the accompanying text read as, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again—and you might end up like Indian film actor Amrish Puri, who overcame an early setback on the way to fulfilling his big screen dreams."[15]


  • Puri, Amrish; Sabharwal, Jyoti (2006). The Act of Life. Stellar Publishers. ISBN 978-81-90224-74-1.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Mogambo Amrish Puri lives on: A tribute". Hindustan Times. 11 January 2010. Archived from the original on 16 May 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Amrish Puri is Dead". 12 January 2005. Archived from the original on 9 July 2013.
  3. ^ "More Than 'Mogambo': The Many Shades of Amrish Puri". 23 June 2022.
  4. ^ "Bollywood News, Filmfare Awards, Movie Reviews, Celebrity Photos & Updates".
  5. ^ "Amrish Puri".
  6. ^ "10 Villains from Bollywood We Love to Hate with a Passion". 24 October 2015.
  7. ^ "Best Bollywood Villains All Time: TOP 5". April 2013.
  8. ^ "Movies March 1998". rediff. [dead link]
  9. ^ K. L. Saigal: The Definitive Biography. Penguin UK. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  10. ^ Singh, Aastha (12 January 2019). "Amrish Puri, Bollywood's 'Mogambo' who was more than just an iconic villain". ThePrint. Archived from the original on 30 July 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Amrish Puri- A tribute". Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. Retrieved 20 April 2006.
  12. ^ "'Mogambo' Amrish Puri's Birth Anniversary". Yahoo Movies. 22 June 2012. Archived from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  13. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India – Main News". Archived from the original on 11 December 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  14. ^ "Film Villain Amrish Puri Dies". The Washington Post. 13 January 2008. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  15. ^ "Amrish Puri's 87th Birthday June 22,2019". Google. 22 June 2019. Archived from the original on 22 June 2019. Retrieved 22 June 2019.