Boney Kapoor remembers making of Mogambo on the late Amrish Puri’s birth anniversary

The producer tells us that he earned his place as a great villain much before Mr India with the movie Hum Paanch

Sharmistha Ghosal Published :  22nd June 2020 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  22nd June 2020 12:00 AM

Amrish Puri as Mogambo in Mr India

Amidst all the bad news that are doing rounds off late, most of us have forgotten that today is Amrish Puri's birthday. And on this day, producer Boney Kapoor shares some interesting anecdotes of how the legendary actor became Bollywood's most loved and iconic villain.

While many of us remember him as the spine chilling Mogambo of Mr. India, he actually rose to fame much earlier with a film called Hum Paanch that was also produced by Boney Kapoor. 

“That was the time when Pran and Premnath were ruling the roost as villains and in prominent character roles. Amrish was working in theatre and had already done a few very good films with the likes of Shyam Benegal where he was appreciated a lot but had not got his due in the industry yet,” recalls Kapoor.

Boney Kapoor

Interestingly, Amrish Puri was signed for Rs 40,000 for Hum Paanch and Kapoor promised him Rs 10,000 as a bonus if the film succeeded. Eventually, the film became a hit and Amrish Puri was paid 50000 as his fees. 

“For Hum Paanch, Amrish understood the nuances of his character from Bapu (director of the film) and added his own improvisations for his look. The red shawl that he wore in the film was from film Ponga Pandit. The picture of the sun on the shawl, he felt, was symbolic of power and would add to the character of a zamindaar,” recollects Kapoor.

When Kapoor signed him for Hum Paanch, he had told Amrish that he is going to become a much-sought-after villain in the years to come. 

The poster of Mr. India and Boney Kapoor

While the film was being shot, Boney Kapoor told him that his fees would be 2.5 to 3 lakh after the release of Hum Paanch. "Only Pran and Premnath were charging that much and maybe more in those times. They were amongst the highest-paid character artists/villains those days," adds Boney.

Kapoor was not wrong and Puri went on to play a villain in films like Vidhaata, Shakti and Hero.

When it came to casting for Mogambo in Mr. India, the makers wanted a new villain who could become a cult character like Gabbar from Sholay played by Amjad Khan or Shakaal in Shaan played by Kulbhushan Kharbanda. 

Auditions were done for two months and a few of the most popular artistes known for playing villains also approached the makers but they couldn’t find their Mogambo. Producer Boney Kapoor, writer Javed Akhtar and director Shekhar Kapoor then agreed that no one will play the character better than Amrish Puri.

Amirsh Puri and Anil Kapoor in Mr India

Amrish Puri got a sketch made of his character with the complete get-up including wig, costume and accessories, looking at which producer Boney Kapoor had told the tailor that if he gets the exact look that was shown to him in the sketch, he would pay him twice the price. Madhav, the tailor, was eventually paid Rs 20,000 while he had actually charged Rs 10,000 for Mr. India.

“I will give all the credit to Amrish for that look and the way he played Mogambo, rest is history as they say,” reminisces Kapoor.

Post Mr. India, Amrish Puri went on to do Steven Speilberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and several other films in South. He went on to become one of the highest-paid villains in Indian films and is known for so many memorable performances with his baritone voice and tough-looking personality.