Om Puri now lashes out at the moral brigade for barking up the wrong tree. He's appalled that Kamal Haasan's "Vishwaroopam" was banned by the Tamil Nadu state government, while the law of the country allows rapists to get away with their crime just because they are legally underage.
He said: "How is a male who is capable of having sex forcibly a juvenile?"
The sixth accused involved in Dec 16 gangrape of a 23-year-old paramedical student in the capital was declared minor by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB). Described as the most brutal of the six accused by the Delhi Police in its charge sheet, he would be able to walk free after a very brief stint in custody.
"I read about a 13-year-old being part of a gangrape of a very young girl in a rural area. You want to me believe he deserves leniency because he's a child? Children don't commit sex crimes. If they do they must be treated as grownups. All rapists, regardless of age, must be treated on a par and punished accordingly," Om Puri added.
The veteran, who was seen in the role of an old guard at a spice factory who sacrifices his life for the safety of the female workers in "Mirch Masala", partially holds cinema responsible for the lack of respect for women in our society.
"Look at the heroines. Look at the kind of photo-shoots they do. Have they any idea what sort of fantasies rural boys must harbour after they see these pictures? And look at the item songs..."
Known for his powerful performances in "Godhuli", "Aakrosh" and "Mandi", the 62-year-old feels the moral police is getting it all wrong in our country.
"I really don't understand this ban on 'Vishwaroopam'. The censor board had passed it. Then why should any government ban it? What was so objectionable about the content?"
"I remember we had trouble with Govinda Nihalani's mini-series 'Tamas' where some people went to court against the picturisation of Hindu-Muslim riot scenes during the partition.
"The courts upheld our right to expression, and we went ahead with the telecast. We have to respect the decisions of the government bodies constituted to streamline cinematic content," Puri added.
The release of "Vishwaroopam" was banned when Muslim outfits claimed that the scenes in the film can hurt the sentiments of the community. The film finally came out Feb 7 after Kamal Haasan, producer-director of the movie, agreed to edit the objectionable scenes.