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How Amrish Puri Became Mogambo in Mr India

Amrish Puri as Mogambo in 'Mr India'

Amrish Puri as Mogambo in 'Mr India'

Amrish Puri played the iconic Bollywood villain Mogambo in 'Mr India'. He was an eccentric retired Army General.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: June 22, 2020, 3:42 PM IST
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Whenever one discusses the most popular villains in Hindi films, the list is incomplete without Mogambo from "Mr India", a character played by veteran actor Amrish Puri.

But many don't know how the look of the iconic antagonist, whose catchphrase "Mogambo khush hua" made the role even more memorable, was created.

"Mr India", starring actor Anil Kapoor in the titular role followed the story of a common man who uses the formula of invisibility to thwart the attack on the country by Mogambo, an eccentric retired Army General.

Producer Boney Kapoor, who backed the 1987 film, said when it came to casting for Mogambo, the makers wanted a new villain who would go on to enjoy a cult status like Amjad Khan's Gabbar from "Sholay" or Kulbhushan Kharbanda as Shakaal from "Shaan".

The search for Mogambo went on for two months, but to no avail.

Later the producer, writer Javed Akhtar and director Shekhar Kapur decided on Puri's name.

According to Boney Kapoor, the veteran actor, who would have turned 88 on Monday, was so excited about the role that he got a sketch made of his look complete with the wig, costume and accessories.

The producer promised well-known Bollywood tailor Madhav Agasti that if he replicated the sketch, he will pay him double the charging price.

"He was so excited that he worked on his look with Madhav tailor and his make up man Govind. While the dialogues, punch line was written in the script by Javed sahab, his look added the chaar chaand in the personality of Mogambo," the filmmaker said in a statement.

"I will give all the credit to him for that look and the way he played Mogambo, rest is history as they say," the producer said about Puri.

Before "Mr India", Boney Kapoor and Puri collaborated on the 1980 film "Hum Paanch", which made the actor popular in negative roles.

That was the time when Pran and Premnath were ruling the roost as villains and in prominent character roles and Puri was working in theatre, along with a few good films with the likes of Shyam Benegal.

"For film 'Hum Paanch', Amrish Ji understood the nuances of his character from Bapu (director of the film) and added his own improvisation for his look. The red shawl that he wore in the film was from film 'Ponga Pandit'. The picture of sun on the shawl was symbolisms of power that he thought would add to the character of a zamindaar," Boney Kapoor added.

Puri was signed for Rs 40,000 for "Hum Paanch" and the producer promised him Rs 10,000 as bonus if the film succeeded. When the film became a hit, the actor was paid Rs 50,000 as his fees, the producer said.

Puri went on to play a villain in several films like "Vidhaata", "Shakti", "Hero", "Vishwatma", "Meri Jung", "Tridev", Ghayal", "Karan Arjun", among others.

He also starred as the main antagonist in Hollywood director Steven Spielberg's 1984 film "Indiana Jones and the temple of Doom" and became one of the highest paid villains in the industry.


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