Tributes to East Is East star Om Puri as he dies aged 66

Punjab-born Om Puri's career in film spanned four decades. Credit: PA
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Bollywood actor Om Puri, best known to UK audiences for his role in the Bafta-winning British film East Is East, has died aged 66.

Puri won plaudits for his portrayal of tough but loving Pakistani patriarch George Khan in the 1999 comedy drama and was nominated for a best actor Bafta.

According to reports in the India media, the actor suffered a heart attack after returning home from a film set on Thursday.

Emmerdale actor Chris Bisson, who played Puri's son Saleem in East Is East, told ITV News the legendary Indian actor's presence during filming brought traffic to a standstill.

Bisson was one of several members of the film's cast to tweet tributes, along with Archie Panjabi, who played Puri's daughter Meenah, and Lesley Nicol, who portrayed Auntie Annie.

Although his star turn in East Is East brought his international acclaim, the Bollywood great had already made the crossover to Hollywood in films including City of Joy, Wolf and Gandhi.

Puri went on to appear in the critically acclaimed television adaptation of White Teeth in 2002.

He was awarded an honorary OBE in 2004.

Puri reprised his celebrated East Is East role in the 2010 sequel West Is West.

More recently he starred alongside Dame Helen Mirren in the 2014 comedy The Hundred-Foot Journey.

Om Puri starred alongside Dame Helen Mirren in 2014's The Hundred Foot Journey. Credit: PA

In a statement, she described her co-star as "unforgettable".

She added: "Om Puri was such a great, expansive, life force of a man, he instantly became a great friend. He was a generous, life-loving man. He loved to act, he loved to feed people, and above all he loved his country and its culture. My profession will miss an original, and India will miss a great representative."

His death was announced by Bollywood director Ashoke Pandit on Friday, who tweeted that he was "sad and shocked".

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid tribute to the actor, who began his on-screen career in 1975.