Om Puri plays a village head who is against same-clan marriages in his next film 'Khap...A Story of Honour Killing' and the acclaimed actor says it is reprehensible that young people are being killed in the name of family honour for marrying out of caste, a practice he says would give the rest of the world the impression that India was living in the "medieval era".
Winner of two National Awards, Puri wants to reach out to more people with the movie.
"This is a very grave topic. It is so disturbing when you see that these honour killings are not happening in any remote area, but in the heart of the country. It is creating a bad impression about our country in the international circuit as if we are living in some medieval era," Puri said.
Several youths have been killed for marrying within the same gotra (clan) or against the family's wishes in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in the past few months. Village khap panchayat (caste-based village councils) also often order the killing of couples who dare to go against their dictates.
"I am completely against 'honour killing'. If two people want to get married, what is the harm? Today young people are educated and they don't believe in such things. It is very sad and upsetting that people still believe in such things," Puri said.
Directed by Ajai Sinha, 'Khap..A Story of Honour Killing' also stars Yuvika Chaudhary and Sarrtaj. Puri plays sarpanch (village head) Omkar Choudhary, who is against the same 'gotra' marriage but in the end gives up on his conservative thinking.
"The movie gives a message that it is all in the mind. Two people in love should be given the freedom and we are hoping that people understand what we want to convey through this film," said the actor.
He has earned loads of accolades in his three-decade career, but he admits candidly that the money has come in only in the last 10 years, and that too from his experiments with commercial cinema.
"To be very frank, for the first 20 years, when I did the best of films, I was underpaid. I am not a filthy rich person, neither am I being paid in crores. Whatever decent money I have made in the last 10 years is from commercial cinema," the 59-year-old said.
The alumnus from the Film and Television Institute of India and the National School of Drama belongs to the league of actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil. He is considered one of the pioneers of new wave cinema and is known for his intense performances in issue-based films like 'Aakrosh' and 'Ardh Satya'.
He later invaded the mainstream with 'Ghayal', 'Maachis', 'Gupt', 'Pyar Tho Hona Hi Tha', 'Hera Pheri', 'Don - The Chase Begin Again' and 'Dev'. From the buffoon to the villain, he has played all kinds of roles and proved his versatility.
He also featured in Richard Attenborough's 'Gandhi' and continued his stint in British films with 'East is East' and 'The Parole Officer'. He also made appearances in Hollywood movies 'The Ghost and The Darkness', 'City of Joy' and 'Wolf'.
His body of work speaks volumes, but Om Puri has been missing from the big screen for some time.
Commenting upon his absence, he said: "Earlier cinema was of great value, it was more meaningful compared to today. So, I have decided to take it easy and be choosy with the projects."
However, he is excited about being part of 'Don 2 - The Chase Continues', for which he starts shooting in October.
"I play the same character, the one I played in the first one. It is going to be real fun. It is a very action-packed movie - that is all I want to say right now," Puri said.
Indo-Asian News Service