Updated: September 6, 2021 8:37:43 am
Pankaj Tripathi doesn’t like the term “my fans”. He finds the sound of it very different from “those who love” him. “I feel a more personal touch in the latter,” he says. The ace actor, who turns 45 today, feels if he can bring a smile on people’s faces through his work in such difficult times, “it’s a wonderful thing.”
Tripathi, who’s had a whirlwind year with six projects, including films like Gunjan Saxena, Ludo, Kaagaz and Mimi, and web show Mirzapur 2 and Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors, however claims that he needs to take it slow.
“I was running at a very fast pace before the pandemic, doing too much work without any break. Though I never ignored my family, but in a normal work culture, you work for 10 hours, five days a week. I wasn’t following that. I finally understood that life is precious and I need to maintain a balance between my professional and personal life,” Tripathi said, adding that he’s found an equilibrium.
In an exclusive chat with indiaexpress.com, Tripathi further revealed that he’s already committed to 5-6 films and web series till mid-2022. “But I’m not signing anything beyond that. I want to complete all this by first quarter of 2022. I’ll think about going further after that,” he shared.
View this post on Instagram
Pankaj Tripathi recently received the Diversity in Cinema Award at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM). He said the honour meant a lot to him because “it has ‘diversity’, ‘cinema’ and ‘award’ – all the terms. What more do I want?” he said with a smile.
Tripathi’s exceptional realistic touch to his performance make all his characters stand out in a project. Though he claims of improvising when it’s needed, he ensures it suits the role. “I keep a grace in my characters, and try to make them perform with that,” he added.
The actor is happy that he’s finally started getting roles suiting his age, as against playing characters 10-15 years older to him in the past. “If you notice, in some projects, the age difference between me and my son was only seven years. If I’m 46, my son is 38. But I managed. I made myself look old.”
Tripathi getting into the skin of his characters is a masterclass for many. From playing Kriti Sanon’s father in Bareilly Ki Barfi, a flamboyant man who’s after bursting the truth behind her fake marriage in Luka Chuppi to her friend-confidant in Mimi, Tripathi slipped into the shoes of all his characters smoothly. According to him, such varied roles happened organically, as he picks stories which he likes personally, be it any sort of relationship with his co-star on-screen.
Tripathi is among those actors who’ve gained the most from the expansion of digital space. He believes the exposure to world content has made the home audience understand the acting craft even better. “Today, the debate is more about good and bad rather than box office collection. Earlier, I failed to understand why people were bothered about box office. I know so many stage actors who were finding it difficult. All of them have work today because of OTT,” he said.
From Kaleen Bhaiya in Mirzapur to Anup Saxena in Gunjan Saxena, Tripathi’s switch between his characters is seamless. And as much as the audience love his portrayals, they’ve also had a field day, with regard to memes. Take for instance, the neck movement of Kaleen Bhaiya and its viral meme video.
“People making memes are very creative. They observe small things and give it a whole new interpretation. I noticed how I do it (neck movement) in the middle of Mirzapur’s shooting. I got a script for a TVC recently where it was mentioned ‘Tripathi’s signature nod here’ (laughs). I say if you ask for it deliberately, I can’t do it. It’s spontaneous.”
View this post on Instagram
Tripathi shared that he has now become a star back in his village, thanks to the youth there who throng outside his house everytime he visits his parents. “Youngsters from far-away places, even UP-border come, sometimes even at midnight. I meet as many people as I can. But because of that I end up spending less time with my parents. I need to be at my main door all the time,” he said, adding that his parents haven’t watched much of his work.
But his family did like Mimi. “A boy from rural India came here to become an actor, and eventually became one, people started recognising him, this in itself is a miracle. Our state Bihar is a little behind in terms of artistic landscape. I was speaking with Manoj bhaiya (Bajpayee) too that OTT has made actors like us (from the same state), immensely busy and popular.”
While he feels great work is happening in Malayalam and Bengali industries, his hopes from Bhojpuri film industry are high too, if the producers and actors are ready to work on some roadblocks. “There’s lack of writing. The existing writers only cater to the trend. We need a risk from a filmmaker to make a different kind of movie. I believe it’s just a matter of time we’ll get a good Bhojpuri film, maybe in the next two years. That’s my gut feeling. And then the industry will change. I’d love to be a part of such a project,” Tripathi said.
Though he’d never wish to redo a character because “the day you did it was that day’s truth,” he does accept that he tends to get saturated playing similar roles. “But I can’t help it. That’s life.”
According to him every character changes him. “When we give so much to a character, even a character leaves something inside us. We grow with every role and learn from their graph and problems. And when you learn from your character’s problems, you do get a better understanding of things.”
When asked if he’d wished to be a part of any project he saw recently, Tripathi in his signature style said, “Jo nahi ho sake poorna kaam, usko karta hoon main pranam! (I never think about things that couldn’t happen with me. What happened was good. What didn’t happen was even better).”
And how does he react when his colleagues or aspiring actors call him their inspiration? “I receive a lot of love from our fraternity people. Today, if I go to any set, 2-3 guys jump at my feet to seek blessings. I tell them not to do that. But that’s their respect and I can’t reject it. If you want love, you sow love. I give respect to others, so it comes back to me in some form or the other,” said the versatile actor.
Tripathi lauded Bulbbul actors Tripti Dimri and Avinash Tiwary among the new crop of actors. He was full of praise for Vikrant Massey too. “I’m happy with the kind of good work he is doing. I’m watching him since his TV days. He’s following his passion and is eager to better his craft.”
As far as Tripathi himself is concerned, he might be the best in his craft, but according to him, he’s bad at taking birthday wishes. “I don’t celebrate my birthday. I feel shy and embarrassed if someone wishes me. I’m not used to it since childhood. You get so many birthday wishes on social media, your entire day goes in thanking people. I feel it’s your off day. Let it remain that way,” the actor concluded.
We’d still wish you a very happy birthday, Pankaj Tripathi!
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.