WittyFeed recently caught up with actor Pankaj Tripathi who was in Delhi for the promotion of his film Anaarkali of Aarah, also starring Swara Bhaskar and Sanjay Mishra. An alumnus of the National School of Drama, Tripathi has carved a niche for himself by doing a wide variety of character roles in Bollywood as well as Indian television. Some of his most memorable roles have come in movies like Gangs of Wasseypur, Masaan, and Nil Battey Sannata.
While talking to the WittyFeed journalist during an exclusive interview, Tripathi shared his early challenges being an outsider while establishing himself in Hindi film industry. He emphasized upon the need for doing smaller roles during the early days. "If you ask me, no role is big or small. As an actor, I back my abilities. I had a very small role in Masaan and yet people could relate to it. In fact, it is one of the movie's most memorable roles. It is a character that stays with you," said Tripathi. Tripathi talked about how throughout his career he has only been offered small roles. "It is all a matter of craft. I am aware of my strengths. When I do these 'small' roles I challenge myself to portray it in a manner that it leaves a lasting impression," added Tripathi.
While asked about how his theatre background has helped him as an actor, Tripathi said, "My theatre training has certainly helped me a lot. But it is not just theatre but also my rural background that makes me unique. I believe I am better equipped to play realistic characters compared to someone who comes from an urban culture. The rural connect can be very enriching for an actor." Tripathi emphasized the need to be unique as an actor. "People sometimes can make fun of your native accents. But I have always seen my Bhojpuri accent as a major strength.
Even today when Dharmendra paaji speaks in Hindi you can sense the Punjabi influence. I see my accent as a major plus point and my true identity. If I have to play hundred Bihari characters then I have the range to play each one of them uniquely," explained Tripathi.
Pankaj Tripathi shared with WittyFeed how with his each new role he is able to break the image of his last role. "While I see my role of Sultan in Gangs of Wasseypur as a breakthrough role, I feel that Nil Battey Sannata allowed me finally break out of my image of a goon and to showcase my acting range. This year as many as eight films are lined up, starting with Anaarkali of Aarah, and I hope that with each movie I will succeed in establishing a new image for myself," said Tripathi.
He shared his excitement for his upcoming film Newton, which recently won an award at the Berlin Film Festival, and asserted that it shouldn't be seen as a Rajkummar Rao movie. "I am playing parallel lead in the film. It is as much my film as it is Rao's. It often happens that actors with strong PR mechanism are able to get themselves promoted as the movie's solo lead. Only Salman Khan can have a solo film in this country. No other actor can make such a claim," explained Tripathi.
The Gangs of Wasseypur actor, who has plans of returning to theatre in the coming months after a year long hiatus, advised aspiring actors to work on their craft and prepare well before they decide to come to Mumbai.
"I am surviving in Mumbai merely on the basis of my acting abilities. I have no PR. Even today people praise my acting but don't remember my name. But I am happy that people know me not by my name through my work," Tripathi added further.