Late veteran actor Amrish Puri remains an icon in Indian cinema, revered for his commanding presence and formidable acting prowess. His villainous roles etched unforgettable impressions on the silver screen, yet paradoxically, he garnered immense admiration and affection from fans worldwide. (Also read: Amrish Puri’s birthday: Vardhan says his grandad loved simple food, Shah Rukh and Salman would good-naturedly tease him)

Amrish Puri died on December 27, 2004, after suffering from brain haemorrhage.

He is fondly remembered for his villainous roles — especially Mogambo in Mr India. He is also remembered for featuring in films such as Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Karan Arjun, Koyla and Nayak. On his birth anniversary, let’s look at some of the intriguing facets of his life that often escape the limelight.

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He was rejected for his looks

Born on June 22, 1932, Amrish was born in Punjab to his parents — S. Nihal Singh Puri and Ved Kaur. He has three brothers, Chaman Puri, Madan Puri, Harish Puri, and a sister, Chandrakanta. Since childhood, Amrish wanted to be an actor. At the age of 22, he gave his first audition but was rejected because of his looks and his voice. He got his break at the age of 40, and made a place for himself as an iconic villain in Indian cinema.

He worked at an insurance company

After he got his first rejection at the age of 22 in an audition, he dropped the dream to enter Bollywood. Following the denial, he started working as a clerk at a government insurance company. While working as a clerk in the insurance company, Amrish met iconic theatre director and drama teacher, Ebrahim Alkazi, who advised him to try his luck in theatre.

Was the cousin of the iconic singer, KL Saigal

He was connected to the iconic singer, KL Saigal, who has inspired generations with his music. Amrish was the cousin of the singer. Saigal’s mother was Amrish’s father, S Nihal Singh Puri’s sister. That makes Amrish and Saigal first cousins.

Used to wear different sizes of shoes on each foot

His height was just 5 feet 10 inches, but he always used to look way taller than his actual height on screen. There is an interesting thing about his feet. He used to be size 11 on one foot, on the other one, he used to wear size 12. His designer made special arrangements for his shoes.

Worked in Hollywood

Not just in Bollywood, Amrish also proved his craft and skill as an artiste in Hollywood. The actor had worked with veteran filmmaker Steven Spielberg and played the character of Mola Ram in the film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. At that time, Steven admitted that Amrish was his favourite villain.