Veteran actor Om Puri, one of the finest performers in Indian cinema and whose body of work will continue to inspire generations of actors, died on Friday due to a heart attack.
Tributes poured in for the actor from his colleagues in the film industry, noted leaders, including the PM, and Puri's admirers.
But those who discussed his alcoholism and troubled marriages did not abuse Puri the way some critics chose to celebrate his passing purely due to his recent stands on beef, Pakistani actors and soldiers.
Quite shockingly, they celebrated Puri's death, called him "scum" and repeatedly addressed to him as "Pakistani dog". They labelled the talented actor as an anti-national, who had no right to live in India, and who deserved to die. An icon who became India’s first crossover artist and helped shape the era of art house cinema, was reduced to a traitor unwanted in India.
Actor Swara Bhaskar perhaps put it the best: The reactions exposed the sheer filth that parades as patriotism these days.
Puri faced the ire of right-wing trolls for much of his last years. All because he stuck his neck out to support Pakistani actors because "they had come to India with a valid visa", called out the beef ban for its hypocrisy given India's huge beef exports and candidly admitted that he was loved in Pakistan. Puri spoke his mind, and he paid the price for it with constant criticism coming his way.
Puri ended up making a derogatory reference to soldiers, which Arnab Goswami pounced upon. Branded anti-national and anti-Army, Puri was unable to make amends. His repeated apologies were in vain.
Here's a sample of the abuse that made its way on social media forums:
These messages don't even begin to cover the complete gamut of hate that was posted. And to think that the trigger was merely Puri's tweets and statements in his last few months is horrifying.
Thankfully, the abuses were criticised by many.
Om Puri ji should be remembered for his exceptional acting career and not for irresponsible comments. It will be disrespectful . @awasthis— Mayur Manekar (@MayurManekar) January 6, 2017
Om Puri ...RIP.... hate your politically views & comments but for the actor that u truly were love & admire ur contribution to cinema...bye— Usman Khan Kittur (@usmankittur) January 6, 2017