Today the demise of veteran actor Om Puri reminded me of our team’s meet with him and his little but significant contribution towards the cause of men’s rights in India.
When I read in newspapers about Om Puri’s estranged wife filing domestic violence case against him and his statement regarding the case, what struck me was his pain which many of us share. I saw a very honest remark without any attempt at political correctness when he spoke about the case being motivated out of greed.
I was surprised that he himself attended the call when I called him. When I told him about our NGO, he seemed a little excited. He was hoping if someone could help him in his distress. I didn’t know he would need help. A veteran actor of decades as a star, a celebrity who could boast Hollywood appearances would be vulnerable and would want help that our group could offer hadn’t crossed my mind. I used to think that alpha males have it easier and could wriggle out of situations given their social status and financial clout at disposal. The meeting was fixed for the next day itself.
Before the meeting, he was unsure whether he really wanted to talk to us about his issues. We were soon seated at his home and he arrived, limping. The chance meeting the Ghashiram of Ghashiram Kotwal or Arvind Velankar from Ardh Satya would have been too unreal for me and I was not expecting that, but at least I thought couldn’t it be Inspector of Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Thaa or the rebellious Sanatan of Maachis. It was a very different Om Puri. Real life was far too cruel for him.
Our conversation began as we told him that Vaastav runs a suicide helpline for men and provide help to men in distress.
“Yesterday I was contemplating whether I should take pills or hang myself” these were the words of the veteran actor in moist eyes. I did not see a versatile actor with an enviable profile of Hollywood feats in his kitty, but I saw a vulnerable human, like countless others whom we have counseled at Vaastav Foundation. It shook me and others listening to him. For the first time he spoke with us without his façade of acting. We realized he was putting an unreal face in disguised mannerism everywhere else.
He described the issues faced by him, in his estranged marriage, few financial details, his vulnerabilities as a man, issues faced by him and what transpired, problems fighting a litigation, difficulties in handling lawyers, complexities facing the judge, vulnerabilities engaging the police. Om ji was now flowing out with his matters almost like we were his closest childhood buddies. Above all, he was concerned that his son should not misunderstand him.
He called his lawyer and spoke about us. He was extremely at peril legally in that stage and he even wanted us to meet his legal team. Then he called his psychologist. Described us as ‘very positive boys’ and repeated it multiple times. That was the time when the psychologist also seemed happy, listening to his overjoyed child like enthusiastic conversation. Those few moments of joy, were quite familiar for us. Men who think they have no support and suddenly find strength in our group have numerous times displayed it in our group meetings.
We told him about the impending International Men’s Day on 19th Nov and if he had any message for men. He readily agreed for a video –
Today, I am happy that we could offer him some solace when he was most vulnerable and needed it most. When I got in touch with him again and congratulated him for his successes in his cases he gladly accepted my wishes.
As I have observed him, he had become bitter from within. He spoke with us about what came to his mind. He also tried to make amends for his acerbic statements but misandrist society didn’t understand those. He was bullied everywhere by the misandrist society which did not see it was equal party in his bitterness and hidden anguish.
When things turn bad, alpha males have it worse, but they hide it better than the rest. That’s the lesson, Om ji taught me. I am happy that I experienced in person, when at least for some time, Om Puri had stopped acting. That was better than anything I had seen of him onscreen.
Today, on his last day, I see a wronged man, a very vulnerable one.
May his soul attain peace. #AumShanti
By Amit Deshpande
Amit Deshpande is the Founder-President of Vaastav Foundation. The prevailing misandry in society made him take up the cause of fight for men’s rights. He strives to highlight men’s issues which have been hitherto neglected. He appeared on TEDxTalk here.
Vaastav Foundation is an NGO working for Men’s Issues in Mumbai. It conducts weekly meetings in Borivli, Mulund and Vashi and is a part of the Men’s groups coalition in India under the banner of Save Indian Family. It runs a suicide helpline for men on 8882 498 498 where almost 100 activists from all over the country, operate the helpline round the clock.
MRAs on Om Puri’s death –
Anupam Dubey –
स्वर्गीय ओम पुरी का जीवन व उनकी म्रत्यु एक ज्वलंत उदाहरण है कि कोई भी पुरुष जब अपनी टूटती हुई गृहस्थी को संभालने का प्रयास करता है और फिर भी उसे जबरन, महिलाओं के छद्म सशक्तिकरण के लिए बने कानूनों के मुकदमों मे फंसा दिया जाता है और उसके बच्चों से भी दूर कर दिया जाता है, तो कैसे उसका जीवन अपने ही घर मे एक अजनबी कि भांति अकेला और क्रूर हो जाता है। ईश्वर उनकी आत्मा को शांति प्रदान करे।
Amit Kumar Gupta
When going gets tough – tough gets going. At times when celebrities shy away from issues like atrocities on men, OM ji was candid to share his heart and speak for men however distressed he was. This shows true mettle of a person he was. The strength he displayed in his character was also reflected in his act and in reality when he spoke of men’s issues. He is a true inspiration for those who hide behind feminism.
It was a few years ago when I heard about problems in his marital life. I was very sad that on a mere statement of his wife he was maligned in the media so badly. I always knew he was a thorough gentleman. He proved it by fighting in difficult times and winning back hearts of others. He was and always will remain in our hearts as one of the most versatile actors.
Om Puri didn’t die, a father died just because of a greedy and adulterous wife. Before trying to make India great, our PM should make India safe for her men.
As a man, I am deeply saddened with the news of sudden demise of Om Puri ji. He was a victim of biased legal system and society. He was paying a hefty maintenance to his wife and son. Two years ago when we met him in his residence, he was very happy that someone was there to stand for him. From Vaastav Foundation we have invited him to come to our meetings but he could not come there for his celebrity status. If he could join us, we would have saved him today. I wish we could bridge the gap and come closure in some way. RIP to the great soul.