The story goes that Akshay Kumar took to his turban, kirpan and beard in Singh Is Kinng with unconditional gusto. But Om Puri who plays Akshay's friend in Anees Bazmee's film had a problem with the beard. He refused to sport one.
"That's true," admits Om. "But I had a very valid reason for saying no to the beard. Like Amitji my face is allergic to beards. I get rashes from facial hair. So, I played the Sardar in Singh Is Kinng with all the other requirements except the beard."
However, for Jagmohan Mundhra's Shoot On Sight, Om had no choice but to sport a beard. "It's the role of a fundamentalist maulvi, a very powerful part with dramatic speeches, and I couldn't play a maulvi without a beard. But my face went through hell," Om shudders, and then softens while talking about his new release.
"Love Songs Yesterday Today&Tomorrow is my gift to myself. It's a beautiful little film in English. And it's directed by a very old friend Jaybrato Chatterjee. I did it because of Jayaji, whom I had never worked with before. Like I told her, 'I had done films with the rest of the family...Amitji, Aishwarya, Abhishek. Now the portrait is complete.' I've a small role in Love Songs. I come in the second- half. But my voice is heard reciting two poems in the first- half."
Speaking of the Bachchans, Om is thoroughly enjoyed himself shooting with Abhishek in Rakeysh Mehra's Dilli 6. "I had a small but powerful role in Rakeysh's Rang De Basanti. Now I've far more space in Dilli 6. I've shot for nearly forty days. I play the girl (Sonam Kapoor)'s father. And incidentally, I've also received an offer from the Rang De Basanti writer Rensel D'Silva for his film with Karan Johar. It's a powerful piece of work and I'm definitely doing it."
Work-wise 2008-9 is one of Om's best phases ever. "There's a wide variety of roles, yes. My next release would be Priyadarshan's Mere Baap Pehle Aap. It's a smile-a-minute comedy. I play a middle-aged man desperate to get married. My friend Paresh Rawal keeps messing up my prospects every time he goes to negotiate for my marriage."
Om also features in Priyadarshan's next film with Shahrukh Khan. "Don't ask me what my role is because I don't know. Priyan has simply blocked my dates for the film with Shahrukh. I'm yet to hear my role. That's the kind of equation I share with Priyan."