‘Namaste sada vatsale matrubhume’ you may have heard about this prayer and if you have not, well, this is the prayer of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or the RSS, which every Swayamsevak knows by heart. One such Swayamsevak was the late legendary Bollywood actor Amrish Puri, whom India is remembering today on his 87th birthday. Known for his iconic roles in Blockbuster movies like Tridev, Damini, Karan Arjun, Mr. India, Koyla, Gadar and many more, Amrish Puri has been one of India’s most favorite villains on the silver screen. With a long and broad physique, big eyes and voice as powerful as a lightning strike, Amrish Puri’s presence on the screen was surely any audience’s delight. Contrary to his versatile villainous roles in the cinema industry, in person, he was very gentle, disciplined and soft-spoken. Another thing that separated Amrish Puri from the rest of Bollywood was his patriotism and association with the RSS as a Swayamsevak.
Indian cinema industry is filled with individuals for whom, Hinduism, Bharat, Brahmin, cow and Indian festivals are nothing more than targets worthy of unwarranted denigration. The Kathua incident is a good example where some Bollywood pseudo-feminists tried to blame Hinduism for the heinous crime. Amrish Puri bloomed like a lotus in this mud of pseudo-liberalism and classicism.
In his biography ‘The Act of Life’ Amrish Puri writes about his struggle in the film Industry, he also writes about how his father was totally against him working in the films. However Amrish Puri took the leap of faith and came to Mumbai. Initially he had to face a lot of problems because he was a commoner in an industry full of attractive and privileged faces, however soon his life took a positive turn and he emerged as a successful character actor, becoming one of the most famous villains of the Indian movie industry.
Amrish Puri got associated with the RSS at the age of around 15 years as he recalled in an interview with the RSS magazine ‘Panchajanya’ . He says “ I was 15-16 years old when I had started going to ‘shakha’..later after the ‘shakha’ we would connect with the families of other Swayamsevaks. I was so much involved in the ‘shakha’ that I was made the ‘mukhya shikshak’(Chief teacher) . I believe that the ‘samskara’ that I received at the ‘shakha’ made important contributions in shaping my personality and character. I am today a part of the film industry, where decline of character is greatest.” He went on to say, ‘I am of pure character only because of the teachings of the RSS. Due to the work in the cinema industry, I might not be involved in activities of the RSS but the teachings of the RSS will stay with me forever’.
In his biography ‘The Act of Life’, he further writes “I would be honest in saying that I was attracted to the Hindutva ideology of the RSS. According to which we all are Hindus and we have to protect ourselves for all the negative foreign influences. We have to push them out so that we can govern our nation. This has nothing to do with religious fanaticism but is only related to patriotism.”
Association of such a great actor with the RSS did not go down well with the so called ‘liberals’ and they started spreading misleading information that “ Amrish Puri was associated with the Sangh only in his childhood, but after the assassination of Gandhi, he shunned the organization’s ideology.” This is an absolutely false statement and many members of his family have also repeatedly denied this and point that he was associated with the RSS and its teachings till his last breath. In his biography too he does not mention of any dissociation with the RSS.
That one of the most celebrated actors in Indian Cinema believed in the tenets of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, recognised its true form and purpose apart from learning discipline as is the experience of every swayamsevak in the organisation, is heart-warming. Amrish Puri shall be remembered for his contribution to Indian cinema and for his untainted persona.