Harrison Ford remembers ‘Indiana Jones’ co-star Amrish Puri: He was a charming, wonderful person

New Delhi, Jun 21 (PTI) Hollywood veteran Harrison Ford, set to reprise his iconic role of archeologist Indiana Jones one last time in “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”, remembers Indian cinema legend Amrish Puri, his co-star in 1984’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, as a sophisticated and charming man.

In “Temple of Doom”, Puri starred as the antagonist Mola Ram, a terrifying occult priest who is into human sacrifices, opposite Ford’s titular whip-cracking archeologist. Set in India, it was the second film in the popular action adventure franchise, directed by Steven Spielberg.

When asked about Puri, regarded as one of the most revered villains in Hindi cinema, Ford shared fond memories of working with the late Indian actor.

“He was a wonderful person, a very charming man. (He was) nothing like the character that he played in our film. Very sophisticated. I really admired him and enjoyed working with him. We had a good time together. And yes, I remember when he passed,” Ford, 80, told PTI in a virtual roundtable interview.

June 22 marks Puri’s 91st birthday. Though known primarily for his negative roles in films such as “Mr India”, “Vishwatma” and “Tridev”, Puri was one of the great character actors of his era, who left a lasting impression in movies such as “Mandi”, “Pardes” and “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”. He died aged 72 in 2005 at a Mumbai hospital.

In his autobiography “The Act of Life”, Puri wrote how he was initially disinterested in the part of Mola Ram. Interestingly, “Temple of Doom” — based on a story by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas — didn’t release in India and the media at home had criticised Puri and actor Roshan Seth for being “anti-national” for appearing in the film.

Puri also wrote about the hand-written note from Spielberg, in which the master filmmaker described him as “my best villain”.

In “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”, Ford returns as the titular character, now on the cusp of retirement as a professor of archaeology, who is forced to go on a thrilling, globe-trotting adventure to help his estranged goddaughter, Helena Shaw, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The story of the new film, directed by James Mangold of “Logan” fame, is set in 1969.

Ford first played Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), which he followed up with “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989), “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008).

In multiple interviews, the actor has said “Dial of Destiny” will be his fifth and last appearance in the franchise.

The Hollywood icon, whose name is also synonymous with three other cult characters of Han Solo (“Star Wars”), CIA agent Jack Ryan, and Rick Deckard (“Blade Runner”), said he wanted to see Indiana Jones age on screen.

“I wanted to be in action scenes as a 77 year old man (when we started shooting for the film). I did not want to be Indiana Jones from the ‘Raiders’. I wanted to be the Indiana Jones that you saw right in front of your face. Age has taken its toll but wisdom and experience has been acquired.

“History has shaped him and now he is at a point where he is no longer an adventurer, he is an academic teaching archeology, studying the past with students who care only about the future, about the newest thing, about landing on the moon,” he said in the roundtable, referring to the 1969 setting of the film.

Describing the ageing and lonely Indiana Jones as “a fish out of water” in “Dial of Destiny”, Ford said the viewers will be happy to see the hero rise to the occasion for one last adventure.

“… the pleasure for the audience for seeing this guy acquire his original vigour, I think it’s one of the beautiful things about the way this script is written,” he added.

The actor also praised Mangold and co-writers Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and David Koepp for crafting a script that met both his and Spielberg’s ambition for “a complex, fun family movie”.

The film is based on characters created by Lucas and Philip Kaufman.

“Dial of Destiny” is the first film in the “Indiana Jones” franchise that is neither directed by Spielberg nor written by Lucas, with both serving as executive producers instead.

“(It’s) a logical extension of what we have built before… But I always wanted this exercise with Indiana Jones… to be rounded out by acknowledging the age of the character, having some fun with the circumstances of the character.”

The Oscar-nominated actor also spoke about having a female lead in “Fleabag” star Waller-Bridge who was not a love interest.

“I love the idea of this platonic relationship. I love that it wasn’t romantic. We didn’t try to make her a romantic interest. but we gave her the opportunity to create a character that was singular…” he added.

John Rhys-Davies and Karen Allen also reprise their roles as Sallah and Marion Ravenwood, respectively, from earlier “Indiana Jones” films.

Mads Mikkelsen, Toby Jones, Antonio Banderas, Shaunette Renee Wilson, Thomas Kretschmann, Boyd Holbrook, Olivier Richters, and Ethann Isidore also round out the cast of the movie.

“Dial of Destiny” will hit Indian theatres on June 29 in Hindi, English, Tamil and Telugu.