Pankaj Tripathi: No gangster character and crime thrillers in 2021 for me!

I don’t judge my characters. But I am no longer playing aggressive violent characters for some time. No gangster character and crime thrillers in 2021, say Pankaj Tripathi

Pankaj Tripathi (PTI)
Pankaj Tripathi (PTI)

Subhash K Jha

Pankaj Tripathy has become a household name in at least the Hindi belt of India after Gangs of Wasseypur not only hit a jackpot on box office but was also appreciated by critics in 2012. In this conversation with Subhash K Jha, Pankaj reveals about his creative process, the roles we will see him in 2021 and more:

While Covid  played havoc with the rest  of the world you went through an  extended period of success  in 2020 with Gunjan Saxena, Mirzapur 2, Ludo and Shakeela?

And  there  will be one more Criminal Justice 2 before the year ends. In it I play one of my most layered interesting character. So yes,  it’s quite  a lot for one year.It’s not as though I was  slogging throughout the  year. On the contrary  I was home  with my wife and  children  for  the first time for so long. For this  I am grateful to  Covid.

So all the  2020  releases  were  shot earlier?

Jee haan. Most of it was shot in 2019 and  released  in 2020. I was happy to have such a variety  of roles  to express myself as an actor. There was  a time when  I only hoped to get work, good bad or indifferent. Now I’m getting only good work. I  came  to  Mumbai only to make acting commercially viable for me. I  had a family to look after. Bills had to be  paid. For this I had to find a way to make acting payable. Otherwise I’d be happy  doing theatre in Patna all my life.

Which among your 2020 roles was your favourite?

I  invest myself equally in all roles. Chahe woh bada ho ya chota achcha  ya bura  I don’t  judge my characters.  But yes , Shakeela is  different. I get to play a superstar from the South, based on no one in particular.  I’ve always  wanted to play a star on screen. Actors wear so many masks  all the  time  they forget who  they really are. I  don’t want to be one  of those actors. I make every effort to  stay grounded . I don’t  get impressed easily by any actor, and that includes myself.But yes  my character Madhav Mishra  in Criminal  Justice is special.

Mirzapur  became controversial for its  filthy language  and  trigger-happy characters. Did  you feel  that the  series was unnecessarily lurid?

Like I said I don’t judge my characters. But I agree with  you, there is no need  to  go overboard. Filthy language is not the only way to get noticed. If you noticed, among all  the characters in Mirzapur  my character Kaleen Bhaiyya  uttered  the least  number of gaalis . This is  not to say I am distancing myself from the content. I  stand by my projects  no  matter how they are received. But let me  tell, I am changing my  strategy as  an actor now. I am no longer playing aggressive violent characters for some time.  No gangster character and crime thrillers in 2021.

You mean to say the  characters  we will see you play in 2021 are not unduly empowered?

In fact they are more disempowered  non-entities  than anything. My lawyer’s character Madhav Mishra  in Criminal  Justice  is such a sad sack. He is constantly seeking to assert himself,  place himself above the inconsequential space allotted  to him  by life. For  a change I don’t act as  Madhav Mishra. I behave. That is to say I remain in character throughout not  resorting to histrionics to get noticed. I am happy to tell  you  we have some significant new actors on board like Ashish Vidyarthi and Deepti Naval.

Do you feel  an added sense of responsibility  towards  your  fans  after  2020?

It’s been a process of growth as  an actor. Now I’ve reached a stage  where people tell me they stop watching a trailer after  I’ve appeared  in it and that they make note to see a film or series that features me in the cast. It does  put a huge responsibility on me. Izzat banaane mein saalon lag jaate hai, gawaane mein ek pal lagta hai (it takes years to  gain respect and a moment to  lose it).

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