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Govind Nihalani

I met Amrish Puri more than 30 years ago through the famous theatre personality, Satyadev Dubey. I used to do lighting and sound for Dubeyji's plays and Amrish was one of the lead actors there. That's how we met.

The first film on which we worked together was Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe, a Marathi film, which I co-produced with Dubeyji, It was written by Vijay Tendulkar, based on his play. Amrish had a small role, not originally in the play. He played a blind man singing a song in the railway compartment. It was the first film for all three of us.

He was like a big brother to me. Off the sets, we were very close friends. But on the sets, he was the actor and I was the director. We were very professional. Still, thanks to our association, there was tremendous ease while working. He had a great sense of humour and would crack great jokes. He was our 'yaaron ka yaar.'

I did about 12 movies with him -- Aaghat, Aakrosh, Ardh Satya, Thakshak, Vijeta, Drohkaal, Dev, and the television serial, Tamas. Plus, the ones with Shyam Benegal. He was a director's actor.

He was very good in Aakrosh and Ardh Satya. He played a tough father to Om Puri in the latter. He was absolutely outstanding!

He was a very warm and compassionate human being, and had a typical sense of loyalty to friends. For me, he will always be a person with a great range. He did films in Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Punjabi and English, besides Hindi films. He was a very versatile actor.

It will take a long time to come to terms with the fact that he is no more.

In the picture: Fardeen Khan, Amrish Puri and Amitabh Bachchan in Dev.
Inset: Govind Nihalani

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