Though most remembered for his dialogue --‘Mogambo khush hua’ in the film Mr India (1987), in which he played the archetypal Bollywood villain, the late Amrish Lal Puri was a consummate artiste who could stand tall among actors anywhere. Born on June 22, 1932, Amrish Puri had four siblings. When he came to Mumbai in the 1970s, his elder brother, Madan Puri was already an established actor in Hindi films. Initially, Puri played character roles in some outstanding films belonging to the parallel cinema of trhe 1970s, before he shot into fame with his essaying of the villain’s role in Mr India as Mogambo. Before coming to the ‘City of Lights’, Amrish Puri had established himself as a theatre actor and was active in the Indian theatre movement in the 1960s, working with celebrated directors like Satyadev Dubey and Girish Karnad. He won the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1979.
Born in Lahore, Punjab, to Lala Nihal Chand and Ved Kaur, Amrish Puri graduated from B.M. College in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. Though he failed his first screen test, he did not lose hope. He took up a job as an insurance agent and began to perform in Prithvi Theatres. Soon his talent as an actor was recognized and this success led him to act in television advertisements and later in films. Receiving his fdirst breaks in films at the age of 40, he straightaway proved his mettle as an actor. He appeared in over 400 movies in Hindi, Kannada, Punjabi, Telugu and Tamil. He also acted in the Hollywood film Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom. His mesmerizing screen presence and booming voice left an indelible mark on the audience.
His first Hindi film was Dev Anand’s Prem Pujari (1970). This was followed by Reshma Aur Sheraaa (1971), and then he essayed a stream of memorable roles in Shyam Benegal’s films like Nishant, Manthan, Bhumika and Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda and Govind Nihalani's film, Party in 1984. Some of his other memorable films are Tridev (1990), Karan Arjun (1996), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1996), Koyla (1999), Baadshah (2000), and Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2002).
He suffered from brain hemorrhage and passed away on January 12, 2005 at the age of 72. His autobiography The Act of Life was published posthumously in 2006.