"Richard Attenborough's Gandhi changed the lives of all those who were associated with the film. Most of all, it changed Ben Kingsley's life. Thereafter each time Gandhi's picture flashed across our mind, we saw Ben's face along with Gandhiji," said Puri.
"I had barely one-and-a-half-minute screen-time in Gandhi. But what an impact my cameo made! I believe it was shown as the footage during the Oscar nominations, a huge honour in a film that starred the most distinguished cast possible...," he added.
Oscar winning filmmaker Attenborough died Sunday. He was 90.
Puri says that his going away is sad, "but then death is inevitable".
"However the pain of his going away is diminished when we consider the fact that an artiste and a visionary like Sir Richard has gone away after using his creative powers to the maximum. Such people become a part of history and a source of inspiration for many generations to come.
"He was an accomplished actor and a filmmaker. With Gandhi he achieved the pinnacle of success. With the film he changed India's image abroad. A very large section of the Western world did not know our values, culture and ethics, our struggles and triumphs as a nation. Because 'Gandhi' was such a success, it reached into the recesses of hearts all over the world...," he said.
The actor, who has worked in several international films in lead roles, the recent one being "The Hundred Foot Journey", had just a cameo in "Gandhi". Puri played a man who had lost his son. "I played a cameo as Nahari. Sir Richard had seen me in 'Aakrosh' and had decided to give me the role of 'Nahari in 'Gandhi'. I shot for just one night. I had screen time of barely 90 seconds. But my scene came at a very important point in the narrative and it was so well written. But it was a memorable night," he said.
The purpose of the multiple-Oscar winning film was to highlight the humanism of Gandhi.
"Sir Richard made Gandhi with complete passion. He was not so much interested in the politics of Mahatma Gandhi as he was in his humanism. The film focused on the non-violence and the freedom struggle of the Mahatama. Sir Richard deliberately didn't feature Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in the script. If he had been present, 'Gandhi' would've become a political film, which Sir Richard didn't want it to be.
"Where do I place Sir Richard among my international directors? He was certainly among the greats. No doubt about it."
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