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Friendship Day special: Om Puri and Nasseruddin Shah were best buddies

Photo Credit: Supplied

Om Puri once saved Nasseruddin Shah’s life from being stabbed, here’s an epic friendship story on Friendship Day 2021. The ‘A Wednesday’ (2008) actor wrote about this throwback incident in his autobiography and then, ‘One Day: A Memoir’.

Late Om Puri and Nasseruddin Shah were very close friends back in the days and they used to hang out with each other all the time. The incident took place at a restaurant in Mumbai in 1977 and the attacker was one of Nasseruddin’s formal friend, Jaspal. Om Puri, who died in 2017, leaped across the table and subdued the attacker. He then took him to the hospital, thereby saving his life. “While the shooting for ‘Bhumika’ (1977) was on, Om and I were in the middle of dinner when Jaspal, whom I had kept well away from for some time now, also entered and greeted Om. We ignored each other but, eyes fixed on me, he passed to sit on another table behind me, so I thought,” Nasseruddin Shah wrote.

“After a while, I was reminded of his presence by what felt like a short sharp punch in the middle of my back. I started to rise, wearily preparing myself for another free-for-all. Before I could move, Om with a strangled cry lunged at something behind me. I turned to see Jaspal holding a small knife, its point dripping blood, his hand raised to strike again, and Om and two others grappling to subdue him.” He wrote that Om argued with the restaurant manager, who wanted to wait for the cops to arrive before calling an ambulance. “Om made the cardinal error of climbing in as well without permission and managed to rile the boss-man, thereby asking the cops to be gentle with me. He was ordered to get off and after considerable pleading with the goon in charge was allowed to stay. Neither of us had an idea where we were headed but I prayed it was not the police station,” he continued, writing that ‘a sizeable crowd’ had gathered to witness the altercation, and that Jaspal had been given ‘the treatment’ in the kitchen.

“The bleeding had not seized, the pain was getting intense and these cops obviously had not quite understood the situation. After a few cursory questions to us, and some garbled transmissions over the radio in Marathi, we arrived at Cooper Hospital in Juhu,” he concluded.

Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah were students at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), and have worked together on several films including, ‘Holi’ (1984), ‘China Gate’ (1998), ‘Aakrosh’ (2010) and many others.

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