Om Puri, who is regarded as one of the finest actors in India, is very upset with his wife. Om’s journalist wife Nandita Puri has penned a biography on her famous husband. Unlikely Hero: The Story Of Om Puri, her book has become a bone of contention between the two. “Why”, you might ask. After all, writing a book about one’s famous husband can only be regarded as a nice gesture.
But Om Puri is not pleased. Apparently, wife Nandita has laid bare some of the actor’s deepest secrets. In her book, Nandita has mentioned incidents from Om’s sexual life. His sexual relation with maid Shanti at the age of 14 has been revealed in this biography. Then there’s a mention of his long term relationship with Laxmi, who was again a maid. Apparently, Om shared an emotional and physical relationship with Laxmi, who took care of him as a child.
Does the whole thing smack of a typical Bollywood masala plot? It isn’t! This is real life for one of the most respected actors in Bollywood. In his own words, “My wife has reduced a very important and sacred part of my life to cheap and lurid gossip. I had shared these dark secrets with my wife as all husbands do. If she chose to make them public at least she should’ve made sure to maintain a dignity about experiences that are a valuable part of my life. Has she forgotten that I have a standing in society and I’ve worked hard to achieve all that I have today? I won’t allow her to throw it all away for the sake of sensationalism.”
If the inclusion of Om’s sexual escapades in her biography was a gimmick to market it, Nandita seems to have succeeded. The book is already famous because of this big controversy that has been raked up. Will Om allow his wife to get away with this? Does the subject of a biography have no control on its contents?
Om Puri has disclosed that a lady called Aparajita Krishan was writing a book about him. That’s when his wife Nandita expressed a desire to pen a biography about him. Assuming that Nandita would respect the trust of their “husband-wife” relationship, Om supported her decision. During the course of writing the book, Nandita never showed Om the manuscript. So he had no idea what was being written. Now that he has found out, Om is livid with indignation and humiliation. He is also concerned that he will now be compared with Shiney Ahuja.
Talking about Laxmi, the maid in question, Om said, “This lady whom Nandita talks in such an undignified manner was Laxmi, who raised me and my brother’s orphaned children. My relationship with this wonderful woman was homage to her loyalty for looking after me unconditionally. But it was not a furtive and sleazy experience. It was beautiful. Why make such a tamasha out of these very sensitive moments? Mahatma Gandhi spoke of his experiences with sexuality in “The Story of My Experiments With Truth”. But was that all there was to his life? Why highlight these aspects when there’s so much more to me? Do you know, when I was a child, I was traveling by train with my destitute mother. The entire compartment collected money to feed us. That incident remains etched in my mind. I was working in a teashop when I was seven years old. When I came to the FTII, Pune I didn’t have a decent shirt to wear. I had to borrow one from Naseeruddin Shah. I had hoped when my life was chronicled it would be an inspirational story.”
Meanwhile, wife Nandita has said that the book contains a lot more than just sexual parts of Om’s life. She feels that the journalist who interviewed her on TV kept asking her questions about Om’s sexual experiences as mentioned in the book, thereby giving the impression that there wasn’t much else in Om’s biography.
We do sympathize with you Nandita. But wouldn’t it have been better to at least let Om read the manuscript before publishing? Unless, of course, this notoriety is what you wanted for your book!